The scope of bills presented to Parliament is wide and varied. From Government proposals to those of backbench Members of Parliament and Members of the House of Lords; outlined in the King’s Speech or just introduced by a parliamentarian to try to improve or amend the law.

However, over the last fifty years, one topic has been almost ever-present – that of assisted dying. From 1931 to today, there has been some form of debate, Bill or vote nearly every year in an attempt to change the UK’s stance on this topic.

Assisted dying remains illegal under English law. It seems perverse that to this day, we do not take a more holistic and thoughtful approach to relieving the pain and suffering of those who live with terminal conditions. This issue was made all the more prominent this year by the BBC’s documentary with mother and son duo Prue Leith and Danny Kruger MP arguing opposite positions.

Many other countries take a more forward thinking position when it comes to assisted dying. It is a right and legal option for over 150 million people around the world, where the laws and jurisdictions have created the safeguards and regulations to protect both patients and families from abuse of the system. In doing so, countries such as the Netherlands and Switzerland have provided reassurance and peace of mind for those living with terminal illnesses and their families.

Yet here in the UK, the inability to amend or update the 1961 Suicide Act has forced those already suffering into desperate positions in which they either have to leave the country to carry out their dying wish, or take more drastic measures. An example of the latter is Tony Nicklinson, who after losing his High Court case, resorted to ending his life through starvation. In other cases, family members have assisted the death of a loved one and have found themselves at the mercy of the law.

The fact remains that by failing to update and amend the law, we are forcing those who are already suffering to go through even greater pain by asking them to travel to other countries to end their lives. Around 46 British citizens travel each year to Dignitas to end their lives. Many do so far earlier than is necessary, due to the need to be well enough to fly.

It is time to change the law and allow assisted dying to take place in the UK. Some might be concerned that the system is open to abuse, yet case studies from those countries that do allow it show the opposite. The systems and structures are rigorous enough to ensure that it is not abused or misapplied. Medical advice and approval are sought and families are consulted.

For far too long, Governments of every colour have tiptoed around this issue. Yet the statistics within the UK speak for themselves. In 2015, a Populus Poll found that 82% of people supported it. A further poll found that 54% of British General Practitioners were either supportive or neutral towards the introduction of assisted dying laws.

Last year, I had the ghastly experience of watching a friend with a terminal illness suffer in agonising pain over the last four months of his life. His bravery and stoicism will be forever etched in my mind. The fact that he was not able to go on his terms not only seems cruel, but also heartless. This is why, over the coming months I will be lobbying and campaigning to update this outdated legislation and to ensure all those who are suffering are at the very least given the right to be able to die in their own country on their terms.

This is one of those moments in which public opinion is far more advanced than that of Parliament, and we as legislators would do well to listen.