Extent, commencement and short title

Part of Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:30 pm on 22nd January 2019.

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Photo of Alex Cunningham Alex Cunningham Labour, Stockton North 2:30 pm, 22nd January 2019

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Pritchard.

On amendment 52, a great deal of concern was expressed in the written evidence submitted to the Committee about how the Bill interacts with the Mental Health Act 1983. In fact, that the Government have not thought that through enough was one of the many reasons why it was felt that they should not be rushing to push the Bill through. They have not made any statements even to claim that everything will be fine. Due to the overlapping nature of the two pieces of legislation, we must take additional precautions to ensure that they work together. To do that, we must know what the Government’s response to the independent review is prior to the provisions coming into force.

It is regrettable that neither this Committee nor the Committee in the Lords took any oral evidence. It is all the more important therefore to get some of the written evidence before the Committee so that everyone is aware of what organisations have been saying. Such organisations as Mencap have added their voices to the concern about the complex interface between the Mental Health Act and the Mental Capacity Act. I will quote from what Mencap said at some length not only because it is worth listening to, but because it is right. It said:

“Sir Simon’s review proposes to redraw the dividing line between when a person should be detained under the MHA and when they might instead fall under the MCA…The proposed dividing line is objection, so that if a person without capacity does not object to admission or treatment they should be placed under the MCA…The proposed new dividing line of objection needs thorough and broad consultation, possible pilot testing, and pre-legislative scrutiny—none of which are possible under the timescales set by Government for this Bill…Given that Sir Simon Wessely’s review has only just been published, there is a strong case for looking at the interplay between this Bill and the recommendations around the MHA. To not do so, risks creating legislation which fits together poorly.”

Does the Minister disagree with Mencap’s assessment and concerns about the interface between the two Acts? Does she accept that much needs to be done before the Bill’s provisions are brought to bear on our vulnerable people?