Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill [HL] - Commons Amendments

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:00 pm on 26th February 2019.

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Photo of Baroness Tyler of Enfield Baroness Tyler of Enfield Liberal Democrat 4:00 pm, 26th February 2019

My Lords, I listened very carefully to the arguments put forward on this difficult and complex issue. Of course, I listened particularly carefully to the arguments of the noble and learned Lords, Lord Hope of Craighead and Lord Mackay of Clashfern. I am not a lawyer, as will become abundantly clear. I have looked to put this in a very simple way.

The issue goes back to the point made by my noble friend Lady Jolly. In my strong view, there is a need for plain English in statutes so that the citizens of this country who are subject to them understand what they say. I think it was the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay of Clashfern, who said that it is not always apparent to non-lawyers what some of these more complex passages mean. I agree; he is absolutely right. Perhaps it is overly simplistic of me but, frankly, I make no apology for that. It is Parliament’s role to define the legal principles in a Bill as simply as possible and the courts’ role to interpret them. I do not understand from any of the arguments I heard why the definition must be framed in such a convoluted way, in the negative with lots of double negatives. I just do not get it, despite listening carefully to the debate. I continue to believe that my definition meets those tests; it is important that whatever definition is in the Bill does so. I do not think that the Government’s definition does so. I wish to test the opinion of the House.

Ayes 232, Noes 223.