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

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:00 pm on 26th February 2019.

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Photo of Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care 5:00 pm, 26th February 2019

My Lords, I thank noble Lords for their contributions to the debate on this group. The provision of information in an appropriate and timely way goes to the heart of the Bill, in its intent to empower the cared-for person. The contributors today demonstrated how significant they have been in the process of improving the Bill.

I will respond first to my noble friend Lady Browning, and her question about clarifying what “as soon as practicable” means. This term is also used in the DoLS legislation. As we have outlined, we intend to clarify this in the code of practice with a range of examples that will make it perfectly clear exactly what it means, for practitioners and the cared-for person. We expect that this will be in the earliest stages of the process, so that the person has the information to enable them to exercise their rights, as the noble Baroness, Lady Wheeler, said,

“as a matter of course”.

This is exactly what would be expected. In order to ensure that this code of practice is workable and effective and, as my noble friend Lord O’Shaughnessy rightly put it, “has teeth”, it is being developed with strong input from stakeholders and practitioners. That is why we are confident that it will not be just a document but a usable and effective piece of statutory guidance.

We are not able to accept the amendment in the name of the noble Baroness for the reasons which she accepted, in some way, in her contribution. We have concerns about the specification of 72 hours and other aspects, but I understand her desire to ensure that information about the authorisation record is provided promptly. This is our intention as well. We have heard the will of both Houses on this and have tried to reflect that in our amendments, and I am certainly willing to consider how best to do that. We think that it is best done in the code of practice, which will be statutory and will have teeth, for the reasons that I outlined. I hope that, with these reassurances, the noble Baroness will feel bound to press her amendment. I beg to move.

Motion on Amendment 24 agreed.