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Mental Capacity Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 10:30 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) 10:30 pm, 1st February 2005

It is unusual for the Government to find themselves in a position where they want something in the Bill that noble Lords feel may not be necessary. I do not have a specific answer as to why the provision has to be in the Bill, but I think the effect of taking it out would not be what the noble Lord wants.

I take this opportunity to pay tribute to the work of Penny Letts, who, as noble Lords will know well, was the expert adviser to the joint scrutiny committee. Penny also acted as secretary to the Law Society's mental health and disability committee and produced the department's Making Decisions series of booklets. Much of the draft code was produced by Penny Letts, and I know that the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, and other noble Lords would not want us to be in a position where she could not, if she were so minded—we have not yet asked her—help and participate in that.

The provision exists in order to enable us to involve experts. It is out of no disrespect to officials or to my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor on these issues that we would want to do that. The provision is necessary for that reason, but I will find out why it needs to be on the face of the Bill and write to the noble Lord specifically.