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Mental Capacity Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 2:30 pm on 25th January 2005.

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Photo of Lord Alton of Liverpool Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench 2:30 pm, 25th January 2005

It is an important point. The Minister was good enough to organise a meeting last week that a number of noble Lords were able to attend, addressed by Dr Michael Wilks, the chairman of the BMA's ethical committee. During that discussion upstairs, he said that doctors must act free from pressure where advance refusals are involved. Given the concern of many people in the profession that they might be expected to do things against their will, will she give further thought to writing a conscience clause into the Bill, rather than leaving the status quo?

Will the Minister return to the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Carter, about the Suicide Act 1961? Parts I and II of that Act deal with anyone who aids and abets a suicide, and Part II is on the giving of counsel for the procuring of a suicide. She said that we must be careful not to disturb other parts of the criminal law. Given that that Act places a criminal liability for complicity in another's suicide on those who may have been involved, how will such provisions apply in the context of the Bill? Will she consider—again, as a declaratory provision—writing it into the Bill that nothing in it disturbs the 1961 Act?