Rob Callister‘There are so many questions that need to be asked’ – Rob Callister

An MHK wants the House of Keys to be able to the quiz the Chief Minister over his 11th hour plans for a referendum on the Assisted Dying Bill.

Onchan MHK Rob Callister has made a request for tomorrow’s extra sitting of the Keys to be placed into a Committee session in order to question Alfred Cannan in detail about his referendum proposal.

The Chief Minister believes the Manx public should have their say on the Assisted Dying Bill in what would be the island’s first ever referendum.

Mr Cannan tabled a surprise amendment as MHKs continued to debate the Bill’s clauses in the Keys last week. He claimed the right to die legislation would put the island ‘at odds with our traditional values’.  Dr Alex Allinson, who proposed the Bill, has described the amendment as a ‘delaying tactic’ to try and prevent the Bill coming into effect despite parliamentary approval.

Mr Callister said: ‘The idea of a referendum was introduced late in the draft legislation process and there are so many questions that need to be asked about this particular topic.’

He said he hoped his Keys colleagues would support his proposal.

The island had been on track to become the first place in the British Isles to introduce assisted dying for terminal ill adults who have a ‘clear and settled’ intention to end their life.

Dr Allinson, the government Minster, Ramsey MHK and GP behind the private member’s Bill, had said it was feasible that Royal Assent could be granted in 2025 and assisted dying made available as early as 2027.

But that was before Mr Cannan announced his proposal for a referendum.

Monday’s extra sitting of the Key has been summoned to provide an opportunity to complete the clauses stage of the Bill and the other remaining items on last week’s order paper.

Mr Speaker Juan Watterson has ruled that members cannot table questions or any other business for the sitting.

But Mr Callister said the Speaker has indicated that the Onchan MHK’s call for a committee of the whole House will be in order.