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Mental Capacity Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 10:00 pm on 1st February 2005.

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Photo of Lord Rix Lord Rix Crossbench 10:00 pm, 1st February 2005

In moving Amendment No. 143 I wish to speak also to Amendments Nos. 146, 155 and 156 with which it is grouped and which stand in the name of my noble friend Lord Adebowale.

Amendments Nos. 143, 146 and 155 seek to broaden the range of circumstances when independent advocates should be available to include befriended people as well as unbefriended people, or perhaps we should say non-supported people. This would be done by removing the restriction in Clauses 35, 36 and 37 that the duty on local authorities and NHS bodies should apply only to "unbefriended" or non-supported people.

Amendment No. 156 seeks to clarify that a vulnerable person, who may be ineligible for support from public funds for their accommodation, would still be able to claim the support of an independent advocate. I believe that such people should still be able to benefit from the independent advocacy service in exactly the same way as others in the same position but with fewer savings. I hope that the Minister will recognise the gap we are trying to close. Talking of gaps, I once again point out that the Bournewood gap would not be closed by this amendment but the appointment of an independent advocate would certainly help to promote swift access to the courts or tribunals for decisions to be made. I beg to move.