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Schedule to Be Inserted as Schedule Aa1 to the Mental Capacity Act 2005

Part of Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 6:50 pm on 12th February 2019.

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Photo of Caroline Dinenage Caroline Dinenage Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care) 6:50 pm, 12th February 2019

My hon. Friend raises a very important point. I am grateful to him for all his feedback on this Bill, because it is very helpful to be able to speak to somebody from a medical background to understand how such a Bill will work in practice at the sharp end. We have given councils access to £10 billion over this three-year period, which just shows the scale of the issues we are facing in adult social care. The Green Paper that will be published shortly will go further in setting out the long-term sustainability of the sector.

As we have heard today, there is no question but that the current DoLS system is failing. In 2014, a House of Lords Committee identified the system as being complex and bureaucratic, and since then the situation has only got worse. An increased number of cases means that local authorities are unable to process all the applications. With more than 48,000 people now waiting over a year, we cannot risk people being subject to overly restrictive health and care practices. This new system will enable quicker access to safeguards, meaning that we can ensure less restrictive practices are being used.

The Government tasked the Law Commission with reviewing the DoLS system and recommending improvements. After more than three years of careful work and consultation, it published its report, which stated the urgent need for reform. That was followed by a report from the Joint Committee on Human Rights, which also recommended having a more targeted system by focusing resources on those who are the most vulnerable or those who have the most complex circumstances, and on cases where objections have been raised. Coupled with this, we have ensured robust safeguards in the system, including independent review and oversight, alongside access to representation and support.

I am grateful to all our partners who have worked with us on this Bill. The input of third sector groups, those who work in the health and care sector and of course those who receive safeguards themselves has all helped to shape our Bill for the better. The Law Commission was absolutely right when it said that DoLS needed to be replaced as a matter of urgency, and that is why we have brought this legislation forward now. We cannot continue with the current system. We are proud to bring forward the Law Commission’s recommendations in this Bill, and we are proud to reform the system and introduce a less bureaucratic, more personalised approach that will work better for people, their families and professionals. I commend this Bill to the House.