Sunday, January 16, 2011

What the H*** happened?

I've only been knocked out properly once. Went to tackle a big second row moving at speed. I was coming from the side and managed to get my head in front of his legs rather than behind, and was hit on my temple by his knee. When I eventually came around, surrounded by worried faces, my first words were "What the h*** happened". I felt a bit like that this week, in response to the media coverage of the 'presumed consent' issue - though I thought my discussion on Post Cynta with Dr Dai Lloyd was fine. Anyway, here's the view from where I stand.

I've known for probably a couple of years that Health Minister, Edwina Hart was minded to ask Westminster for the power to introduce 'presumed consent' in Wales, by means of a Legislative Competence Order (LCO). At present, organs can be removed from a dead body only if their former owner has given express permission for that to happen. The Assembly Government wants to introduce a system where the organs can be taken unless there is on record an express refusal to allow it. When the request for this power transfer finally came, two thoughts came to mind. Firsly, that it was late in the term of the current administration in Cardiff Bay to intoduce a complex measure before the Assembly election, and secondly that it might turn out not to be straightforward.

Fast forward to this week. The Secretary of State cleared the order (I think that's the terminology) and passed it on to others which have to be consulted - the Welsh Affairs Select Committee, and the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve. The latter sees problems with the LCO, which interest me. Personally, I've felt deeply divided within myself about this issue. I have very good friends who are passionate about changing the law, and I would like so much to share their passion - but I don't. And its for the same reason as Dominic Grieve. Personally, I'm concerned that some of my fellow citizens would have their organs removed even though they would not want it to be so - simply because they could not be ar*** to fill in a form. The Attorney General has concerns about human rights and personal liberty - which is much the same thing. What will happen in the end I do not know, but the opinion of the Governmnet's leading legal adviser cannot be simply ignored in any civilised country.

We've already seen some (including senior people who really should know better) suggesting that a Yes vote on March 3rd would change this position. It would not. This issue has nothing whatsoever to do with the 'powers' referendum. Its about whether the pwer falls within one of the devolved 'fields' of responsibility. The Attorney General may well take the view that the human rights and personal liberties involved here are not devolved. Oh what a dilemma. Luckily, I cannot see how I can be called upon to vote on this.


Anonymous said...

I thought Cheryl Gillan was fairly clear about it on the politics programme. I'm surprised it wasn't in the news more this weekend. I watched BBC Cymru's news last night but there wasn't much news. They just had things which happened on Saturday. I didn't see S4C. Media frenzy ended?

John Dixon said...

"We've already seen some (including senior people who really should know better) suggesting that a Yes vote on March 3rd would change this position. It would not."

Totally agree; and it's disingenuous on the part of those who have argued that a yes vote would change the position. But claiming this to be a 'human rights' matter worries me more. I think it's a complete red herring; the danger though is that 'human rights' could all too easily become an argument against just about any measure proposed by the Assembly.

Anonymous said...

So, the WAG not only wants to ruin our lives (when we are alive) they now want the power to hack up our twitching corpses too! I know that this is not a power that is strictly related to the question in the referendum, but frankly any power transfer to the incompetent Labour (and pals) administration in Cardiff can only give more strength to the lunatics running the asylum. At least the current set up gives Westminster some blocking power over the banana republic Wales has become since devolution.

Glyn Davies said...

Anon - I suppose I read excitable bloggers as well!

John - We're not going to argue about this - and Dominic Grieve has not made a final decision as far as I know. I'm not sure what 'field' removing body parts against the owner's will falls into, but 'human rights' seems a possibility. Not sure that I agree that it could have the wide application you fear. Will have to think a bit on this one.

Roman - I'm rather in favour of people saying it how they see it!

Sorry anons but had to leave two comments unpublished - becaus ethey would have caused me too much embarrassment.

Sea Wood said...

This LCO order definitely includes human rights concerns, and I would say per se. When a state proposes to take ownership of peoples' bodies this is very much a human rights issue. The state proposes to have first dibs/ownership rights on a person's body absent an opt-out. The state will have ownership rights which the individual can stay if they opt out. In the opt-in there is no state ownership issue, the individual maintained ownership over their body and only if the individual decided to have his/her organs harvested could the state then harvest his/her organs near the time of death. The opt-out system turns this on its head. Under opt-out the state is put in the driving seat, not the individual.

lucie said...

- so if this is deemed not to be a human rights issue, but rather a health service issue, it falls within the Health 'Field' and will be a devolved compentency if there is a yes vote in the forthcoming referendum ?

- surely it is an issue of 'state ownership' when one can choose to opt-out and family have to agree before any organs are taken ?

I think as long as there are safe-guards and investment is put into public awareness raising and ensuring that there is the sufficient structure in Wales to cope with a move to opt-out then its a good and positive move and will save lives.