§ Lord Shore of Stepney
asked Her Majesty's Government:
When a case involving an application for permission to withdraw life support from a patient in a permanent vegetative state last came before a United Kingdom court, and what was the court's decision: whether any case of this kind has previously gone before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg: and if so, whether the decision of that court differed from the judgment reached in the United Kingdom court: and what new considerations will United Kingdom courts be required to take into account in such cases following the incorporation of the convention into United Kingdom law. [HL4058]
§ The Lord Chancellor
The last case to come before a United Kingdom court involving an application for permission to withdraw life support from a patient in a permanent vegetative state was that ofRe M & Re H. In this case, decided on 6 October, Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, President of the Family Division of the High Court, made a declaration that doctors can lawfully withdraw artificial nutrition and hydration from two women in a permanent vegetative state as this was in their best interests and did not constitute an infringement of Article 2 of the convention, the right to life. So far as I am aware, no case of this kind has as yet been before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. In cases such as this, as in other cases under the Human Rights Act 1998, a court determining a question which has arisen in connection with a convention right must take into account any judgment of the European Court of Human Rights, to the extent that, in its judgment, it is relevant.