It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Austin. I want to make a brief contribution, particularly on amendment 37.
If I may say so, the Minister was rather dismissive in her contribution. It has become evident in the past hour that the real challenge for the Bill will be to provide an affordable and worthwhile set of arrangements that guarantees that people who genuinely need care and protection get it, but that protects individuals’ liberties at the same time. We do not want to end up putting the wider establishment’s interests first and the individual’s second.
The Minister said that she was anxious not to put too much in the Bill, because that might expose it to challenges about what had been left out. Conversely, the Government cannot put too little in the Bill and ask us to rely on a non-existent code of practice. As legislators scrutinising legislation that will have a massive impact on the liberty and human rights of some of the most vulnerable people in our society, we need to ensure that the Bill is fit for purpose; I notice that Sense, an organisation with a lot of experience of many people who will fall within the Bill’s remit, takes the view that it is not. We need to be certain that we have the balance right, rather than tipping it in favour of the authorities or institutions—the people with power, effectively—against the interests of vulnerable people.
I know that the Minister’s intention is to streamline the process, but if she succeeds in streamlining it by flouting the legitimate liberties of some of our most vulnerable people, it seems to me that she is exposing the system to some risk. Disability Rights UK fears that one of the Bill’s dangers is that it
“takes the rights of disabled people backwards.”