Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill [Lords]

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:09 pm on 18th December 2018.

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Photo of Matthew Hancock Matthew Hancock Secretary of State for Health and Social Care 5:09 pm, 18th December 2018

Noted. Returning to the point made in the intervention, of course if there is an objection, there is a right in this case. So there is an escalation process in the event of an objection.

Before I end, I want briefly to deal with the Opposition’s reasoned amendment, because I hope we are able to show in this debate that all the points they raise have been considered. I hope the House will not mind my taking a moment to address each one briefly. First, they make the claim that somehow the Bill has been rushed through and insufficient pre-legislative scrutiny has been carried out. The Bill follows the Law Commission spending three years developing the new model, consulting extensively. The Joint Committee on Human Rights then conducted an inquiry and pre-legislative scrutiny. The Local Government Association, Age UK and Sir Simon Wessely have all backed the new legislation now. The LGA says:

“The Bill provides a vital opportunity for long-awaited reform” and it needs to be passed. So we need to get this Bill on the statute book, because every extra delay risks depriving someone of their liberty and their right to freedom unnecessarily, and I do not want to see that happen.

Secondly, the amendment claims that the Bill

“enshrines a conflict of interest in relation to independent providers of health and care services”.

Again, that is not the case. Every authorisation must be reviewed by somebody who does not deliver day-to-day care and treatment for the person in question. We plan to go further by tabling Government amendments that will require authorisations in independent hospitals to be reviewed by an external approved mental capacity professional. Finally, the reasoned amendment claims that it is concerned about clearing the backlog in the current system. Well, so are we, and that is what this Bill does. Anyone concerned about the backlog and the current system should back the Bill with enthusiasm.

The claims that this Bill does not put the interests of the cared for person first or address the interface with the Mental Health Act have been addressed already. The very reason we need this legislation is so that we can put their interests first, because they cannot afford to wait for the recommendations of the Mental Health Act review to come into effect, in a Bill that will inevitably take time to develop, because of the need to do this on a consultative and broad basis. While welcoming the probing, I very much hope that the Opposition and every Member of this House will support this Bill, because it strikes a careful balance between liberty and protection. It offers vulnerable people a brighter and better future. We have listened to concerns and we continue to be open to ideas. We have sought to amend and improve the Bill as it has progressed through the other place, and we will make further amendments in this House. I therefore hope that this opportunity to change the system for the better is one that the House recognises. I also hope it will recognise that doing nothing is not an option. That is why I am proud to commend the Bill to the House.