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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 Baroness Ashton of Upholland Baroness Ashton of Upholland Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Constitutional Affairs) 10:00 pm, 1st February 2005

I shall try to find another way of saying what I have already said. I recognise that in all these groups of amendments noble Lords are looking for ways in which we can try to define how we will extend this service. I say at the outset that the Government's ambition is to have good consultation with those who can help us extend the service to the most vulnerable in the most difficult situations. It is my ambition that that is where we begin, not where we end. I believe there is a general agreement in the Committee that we should protect the most vulnerable first and move outwards and onwards to try to capture more and more people.

The difficulty with the amendments is encapsulated in the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Pearson of Rannoch; namely, that the amendments would capture people who would possibly not wish to be captured by them. Further, I am not convinced that at this stage they would constitute the best use of resources. Until we have consulted with others I do not believe that we are in a position to say that a particular group should come next on the list of those who the Government wish to support as opposed to another vulnerable group who might be identified. For that reason, and that reason alone, I resist the amendments but with the commitment I have already given that we shall consult widely—I very much welcome any noble Lord who wishes to participate in that discussion—to see how best we can support those who are in need of that support. Given the spirit of those remarks, I hope that the noble Lord will withdraw the amendment.