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

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 10:00 pm on 22nd October 2018.

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Photo of Lord Touhig Lord Touhig Labour 10:00 pm, 22nd October 2018

My Lords, this group of amendments covers a range of things that need to be done before the commencement of the Act, and steps that should be followed later, as proposed by my Amendment 92. Noble Lords have made powerful arguments in favour of their amendments. In view of the lateness of the hour, I will confine my remarks to Amendment 92, tabled in my name, with the support of the noble Baronesses, Lady Tyler and Lady Jolly.

Amendment 92 would see two independent reports commissioned by the Government to be laid before Parliament within two and four years of the Act becoming law. The reports would provide a valuable update on how implementation was proceeding and would highlight areas for improvement. It has often been said that the Mental Capacity Act is a good piece of legislation that has been poorly implemented. If we want to see this Bill strengthened in all the areas we wish it to be, we will also need to monitor its implementation extremely closely, not least because the legislation affects some of the most vulnerable in our society and concerns their freedoms. Hundreds of thousands of people across England and Wales will be affected.

The amendment is modelled on the independent reviews that have accompanied the introduction of personal independence payments. The proposed report could look at a number of things: first, that decisions on whether someone’s liberty is restricted are truly being made in the best interests of the individual and not in the interests of providers or commissioners; secondly, that training is effective and ongoing and reinforces the rights of the individual; thirdly, that families and carers are involved and consulted as appropriate; and, fourthly, that advocacy is available to all who need it and is delivered effectively and impartially. Some very powerful arguments have been made in this short debate. I hope that the Minister will listen and that the Government will respond positively.