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Mental Capacity Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:15 pm on 1st February 2005.

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Photo of Earl Howe Earl Howe Shadow Minister, Family, Shadow Minister, Health 7:15 pm, 1st February 2005

I am grateful to the Minister for her reply and to the noble Baroness, Lady Barker, for her remarks. Yes, I concede that the list of relations is arbitrary. The list could probably be varied without countering the point of principle too greatly, but it would still be a list and would therefore offend the noble Baroness. So I am sure that if I bring this point back at Report stage, it will not be in the form of a list. But I think, perhaps, the noble Baroness has said enough to persuade me that I should not take that action in that she has very helpfully told the Committee that the code of practice has reflected the point at issue.

Of course, what troubles me is that a court deputy who is not someone close to the patient is the only type of consultee—potentially, on the face of the Bill at least—who is not close to the patient. That makes a nonsense of the requirement in Clause 32(4)(b), which says that the researcher must ask the consultee the question about "P's wishes and feelings". It does not say that whoever is being consulted has to give an informed answer, though that is clearly what it implies. But it does not actually say that.

So it is absolutely essential for the code of practice to be firm on this point. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.