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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 Brennan Lord Brennan Labour 2:30 pm, 25th January 2005

I am grateful for that correction to what I intended to say, which is that they should not be legally binding.

I turn to the last of my three points. When we consider the question of how an advance decision may fall to be put into effect, it is extremely important as we go through the Bill clause by clause to ensure that anyone whose job it is to give effect to this—whether medically, as a proxy or as a court—is entitled to take into account all the circumstances. It would be most unfortunate if we ended up with a legal framework in which there was not the "all the circumstances" provision that would enable the right decision to be made.

Finally, I shall comment on Amendment No. 13. In criminal law there are rules of mens rea in respect of murder, manslaughter and assisted suicide. There are requirements of specific intentions before the crime can be proven. The specific intention of each of them is to kill, cause serious injury or to cause a suicide by way of assistance. The phrase "motivated by desire" does not readily fit in with those concepts of specific intent. The clarity which some of us seek reflects that concern. Does this form of wording meet the concern?