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

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 8:15 pm on 22nd October 2018.

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Photo of Baroness Murphy Baroness Murphy Crossbench 8:15 pm, 22nd October 2018

My Lords, Amendment 84, in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, is possibly one of the most important amendments we have tabled to the Bill. It has become so much more important over the last 20 or 30 years to try to encourage people to make decisions in advance about what should happen to them and to encourage them to think about what will happen in the event of things going wrong—to think about things such as lasting powers of attorney and advance decisions on mental health services. I understand that Sir Simon Wessely will recommend some changes that are very similar to this to go into the new mental health legislation. It would be good, bearing in mind our previous discussions, if we could feel confident that the same sort of approach was being taken in this Bill.

Advance decision-making in legislation has proved quite difficult to implement, because you have to have a widespread campaign of understanding how people can make these decisions. It also has to have the individual making the decision accept that things will happen to them that they are not expecting, which is sometimes very difficult. That is why it so difficult to get people to sign up to insurance against long-term care; they simply do not believe that it will ever happen to them. It is very difficult to get these bits of legislation implemented and widespread, but we have to start somewhere. This is such an important piece to try to get into a Bill, to start people thinking about their future and what is acceptable. This would be a very important thing for the Bill.

I would also like to see Amendment 85 implemented. It is something that the Law Commission had in originally. I am not quite sure why it came out. It sort of just disappeared in the transcription somewhere. It is an important safeguard. We tend to forget all those Victorian cases a couple of hundred years ago when people were quite regularly held in circumstances against their wishes and unlawfully deprived of their liberty. It is as well to be reminded that it can, and probably does, still happen quite frequently. To have something on the statute book would be helpful, so I support the two amendments.