Coroners (Determination of Suicide) Bill: Bishop of St Albans sets out proposals; Bishop of Exeter supports

On 28th October 2022, the Bishop of St Albans brought a revised version of his Coroners (Determination of Suicide) Bill before the House of Lords for its second reading. The Bishop of Exeter spoke in support of the bill. The bill was read and sent to a Committee of the Whole House:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: That the Bill now be read a second time.

My Lords, I declare my interest as a vice-chair of Peers for Gambling Reform.

I am glad to bring before the House the Coroners (Determination of Suicide) Bill, now in its third iteration. This latest version is significantly different from the previous two; it has taken on board many of His Majesty’s Government’s criticisms and attempted to resolve them. Indeed, the Minister who dealt with the Bill in the previous Session, the noble Lord, Lord Wolfson of Tredegar, had hoped to speak today from the Back Benches but has to be in court. He has, however, given his permission to say that he supports the aims of the Bill. Because we have tried to respond to the points made by the Government, I will listen attentively to the Minister as he outlines their response, given that I believe their concerns have largely been dealt with.

The genesis of the Bill is the frustration that many of us in your Lordships’ House have felt when we have tried to bring in sensible reforms to the Wild West of online gambling, which is causing untold suffering in communities across our nation. More than a third of a million adults in our country are now diagnosed with a gambling addiction. More than 62,000 teenagers, who in law are not even allowed to gamble, have been diagnosed with a gambling problem. With an estimated more than 400,000 suicides every year due to problem gambling, we need to address this problem in a sensible way. On a number of occasions when I and other noble Lords have raised the issue in the House, the Government have resisted our attempts to bring some order to this sector, simply claiming, “We don’t understand the size of the problem.” The Bill is a proposal for one way of obtaining more data.

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Bishop of St Albans introduces the Coroners (Determination of Suicide) Bill

On 7th June 2022, The Bishop of St Albans introduced his Coroners (Determination of Suicide) Bill on its first reading:

A Bill to require the coroner, following an inquest, to record an opinion as to the relevant factors in a case of death by suicide; and for connected purposes.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, in moving the Bill, I declare my interest in the register as a vice-president of Peers for Gambling Reform.

Hansard

The Bill was introduced by the Lord Bishop of St Albans, read a first time and ordered to be printed.

Coroners (Determination of Suicide) Bill: Bishop of St Albans moves to pass bill

On 25th March 2022, the House of Lords debated the Coroners (Determination of Suicide) Bill (2021) in its third reading. The Bishop of St Albans, who had brought the bill as a private members bill, moved that the bill should pass.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: That the Bill do now pass.

My Lords, I shall make just one or two brief comments. I am sure everybody is greatly relieved that the timing is going so well this afternoon, and I really shall not delay your Lordships for too long, but this gives me an opportunity to say one or two brief things and then give some thanks.

The reason behind the Bill is that, seven or eight years ago, a couple came to see me, sat in my study and told me how their son had taken his life because of a gambling problem. The sad thing about that story was the way they talked about the fact that they could see what was happening. He had gone in and out of treatment, but they just could not reach out to him. They knew what was going to happen, and they watched as he slowly spiralled down until that fateful day when he took his life. That led me on a journey. Eventually, we managed to get a Select Committee here. As your Lordships may be aware, Peers for Gambling Reform is now, I think, the largest lobbying group in the House of Lords.

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Bishop of St Albans calls for immediate action to tackle gambling related harms

On 9th October the Bishop of St Albans asked a question in the House of Lords in response to the Government’s announcement of its comprehensive review of the Gambling Act and call for evidence:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans [V]: My Lords, I am disappointed that significant parts of this statement read as if they were written by the gambling industry.
They pointedly ignore the facts with which we began the Select Committee report: there are nearly 400,000 problem gamblers, plus 60,000 teenage gamblers, materially affecting the lives of 2 million people.
Just last night, I spent an hour with yet another family who had lost their 25 year-old son to gambling. As most of the recommendations in the Select Committee report do not require legislation, why will Her Majesty’s Government not implement them now to save lives? Why will they not make this a public health issue?

Bishop of St Albans asks Government about recording of gambling-related suicides

On 5th March 2020 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, received a written answer to a question on gambling-related suicides:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: HL1786 To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford on 13 February (HL1452), what assessment they have made of the potential benefit resulting from the (1) collection, and (2) publication, of data on the number of people who commit suicide for reasons connected with gambling-related harm. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government about recording of gambling-related suicides”

Bishop of St Albans asks Government about registration of gambling-related suicides

On 20th February 2020 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, received a written answer from Government on gambling-related suicides:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: HL1453 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to amend the list of circumstances in which a registered medical professional has a duty to notify a relevant senior coroner of a death to include suicide as a result of problem gambling.

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Bishop of St Albans asks Government about gamblification of sport

On 10th & 13th February 2020 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, received written answers to questions on the gambling industry and sport:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: HL1452
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to establish a publicly accessible central record of the number of people who commit suicide for reasons connected with problem gambling.

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Bishop of St Albans introduces Bill on gambling-related suicides

On 16th January 2020 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, introduced a Private Member’s Bill to the House of Lords. The Bill received its formal First Reading and awaits time for debate.

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Bishop of Winchester asks if Ministers will meet those concerned about change to law on assisted suicide

On 23rd May 2019 Baroness Meacher asked the Government “what assessment they have made of whether the threat of prosecutions under the Suicide Act 1961 is causing suffering to mentally competent, terminally ill people at the end of their lives.” The Bishop of Winchester, Rt Revd Tim Dakin, asked a follow-up question:

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Bishop of St Albans asks about problem gambling related suicides

On 25th March 2019 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, received a written answer to a question on problem gambling-related suicide:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of Gambling disorder, increased mortality, suicidality, and associated comorbidity: A longitudinal nationwide register study, published in November 2018; and in particular its finding that problem gamblers are 15 times more likely to take their own lives. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks about problem gambling related suicides”

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