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

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:15 pm on 22nd October 2018.

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Photo of Lord O'Shaughnessy Lord O'Shaughnessy The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care 7:15 pm, 22nd October 2018

I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, for tabling these amendments and precipitating this discussion. I will move straight on to the substance of the amendments. Amendment 61 provides that local authorities must make arrangements for a named person to be in charge of training and revalidation of approved mental capacity professionals and that local authorities must make arrangements for contracts with neighbouring local authorities and health bodies as required.

On the issue of approvals and training, the Bill is clear that local authorities must approve individuals to become AMCPs, and regulations under paragraph 33 will make provision around training, qualifications and other eligibility criteria. The question of what kind of training there should be and who pays is something that we discussed at some length on the last Committee day. That was more in relation to care home managers, which was primarily the focus of the questions of the noble Lord, Lord Hunt. The same read-across applies to AMCPs as well. On that occasion, I committed to bringing forward more details of what the training would look like. I also confirmed that, in England, Health Education England and ADASS would be responsible for working with skills for care, and Social Work England. Those are the bodies that would be responsible for overseeing and designing the training. The noble Baroness, Lady Jolly, asked about the rights of individuals. Of course, that would be the centrepiece of any training programme to make sure that those rights are properly respected.

On the specific question about local authorities naming an individual, I say that the Bill does not prevent them doing so. It is something that they are able to do and, in our view, it does not need to be set out in primary legislation. There is no such requirement for best-interests assessors or approved mental health professionals, I understand, and that has not caused any difficulties in practice. To that extent, we can mimic the arrangements in place there.

Making arrangements with other local authorities is again not precluded by the Bill. Clearly, that is something that local authorities will want to do, depending on the arrangements they have commissioned in care across different authorities. I can confirm that we will provide guidance on this in the code of practice.

Amendment 61A adds to the criteria that must be met for a person to become an AMCP. They must be,

“a registered professional, with a minimum of three years clinical experience”.

A list sets out whom that could include; that list has been added to by one tonight, which in some senses exemplifies the nature of the problem. I completely agree with the noble Baroness: we need to set out not only the kind of professionals but the kind of qualifications and experience. There has to be a balance and a mix between all of those. That will be set out in regulations. The noble Baroness, Lady Barker, asked about the proper place to set out the rigidity or robustness, and we believe that the appropriate place would be in regulations, which provide a degree of flexibility that would not apply if we enshrined this in primary legislation. That is why we are proposing the approach of defining the groups that should be acting as AMCPs.