Schedule to be inserted as Schedule AA1 to the Mental Capacity Act 2005

Part of Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:30 am on 15th January 2019.

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Photo of Caroline Dinenage Caroline Dinenage Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care) 10:30 am, 15th January 2019

A number of valid points have been raised by hon. Members and I will cover some in more detail when we reach the relevant part of the Bill. I want to get through as many as I can now that relate to this matter.

The hon. Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak may have done it with a cheeky smile, but he said that I am flirting and dismissive in the way I address amendments to the Bill. Can I reassure him from the outset that I have not been dismissive of any of the amendments? I take the Bill incredibly seriously; I am not flirting with it. I look at every single amendment to see whether it would add to the Bill. That is why we amended the Bill so much in the House of Lords. I have committed to that.

I want to talk briefly about 16 and 17-year-olds. The hon. Member for Worsley and Eccles South is absolutely right that we have to be incredibly careful. The current system just does not work for 16 and 17-year-olds and the only recourse is the Court of Protection. We see a swathe of 16 and 17-year-olds who have no protection and no form of DoLS. That is simply not good enough.

Before making this change, we gave careful thought to how the inclusion of 16 and 17-year-olds would interact with other legislation, including the Children Act 1989. We are comfortable that it would work alongside existing legislation. We also looked at the interface with the Mental Health Act and the Mental Capacity Act. Sir Simon Wessely, who is conducting the review of the Mental Health Act, suggests that that is the way it should go.

We have given careful thought to how parents are involved when their child is subject to liberty protection safeguards. Where appropriate, they will be consulted. We have to say “where appropriate” because of the very small number of safeguarding issues that could arise. That is the problem with having absolutes in the Bill. We do not want to recreate what we have at moment—a system that tries to catch all and to be one size fits all, but that ends up helping nobody. We want a targeted system focused on resources where they are needed most. That is why we have not taken a blanket approach to AMCPs.

The hon. Member for Stockton North suggested that the problem is something to do with resourcing, but it is not—it is about focusing resources where they are most needed. In a case where a young person agrees to their care, their parents are happy with it and all professionals agree it is in their best interests, what does an AMCP add? The case would still be reviewed by someone not involved in their care, through the pre-authorisation process. Every single application under the liberty protection safeguards will be carefully reviewed by someone not involved in their care or treatment.