Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill [HL] - Committee (3rd Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:45 pm on 22nd October 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Baroness Thornton Baroness Thornton Shadow Spokesperson (Health) 6:45 pm, 22nd October 2018

I thank the noble Baronesses, Lady Barker and Lady Tyler, for tabling this amendment. I agree with the remarks of the noble Baroness, Lady Barker, about the state of the Bill. I am rather—“disappointed” may not be quite the right word—surprised that the noble Baroness, Lady Murphy, who has brought discipline to the House to focus on good legislation and how it should work, is suggesting that we have to have something, so this is it. I really hope that that is not the case and that this Committee will have revealed to the Minister, and particularly to the Bill team, that many elements in the Bill need clarification, need to be changed and can be improved. That is our job, and the noble Baroness, Lady Barker, is highlighting but one of those elements. In fact, the amendment that I am due to talk about next refers to the difficulties that the Bill has brought and the differences between the Mental Health Act and the Mental Capacity Act.

The last month or so has been very revealing. The Bill was sold to us as something really quite simple that was going to streamline things, get rid of the backlog, save some money and so on, and it really needed only one day in Committee. That is certainly how it was sold to me on these Benches and, I am sure, to other people in the House. In fact, what has happened over the last couple of months is that all the stakeholders and people who are writing to us are saying, “No, this will not do. This Bill does not work. It is dangerous and difficult”. It needs clarification, and these amendments highlight the areas that need it. We are going to move on to other areas that need clarification and which will certainly need amendment. This is an important and legitimate question to ask about the Bill.