Meaning of deprivation of liberty

Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:00 pm on 22nd January 2019.

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“(1) After section 4 of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 insert—

‘4ZA Meaning of deprivation of liberty

(1) In this Act, references to deprivation of a person’s liberty have the same meaning as in Article 5(1) of the Human Rights Convention and, accordingly, a person is not deprived of liberty in any of the circumstances described in subsections (2) to (4).

(2) A person is not deprived of liberty in a particular place if the person is free to leave that place permanently.

(3) A person is not deprived of liberty in a particular place if—

(a) the person is not subject to continuous supervision, and

(b) the person is free to leave the place temporarily (even if subject to supervision while outside that place).

(4) A person is not deprived of liberty if—

(a) the arrangements alleged to give rise to the deprivation of liberty are put in place in order to give medical treatment for a physical illness or injury, and

(b) the same (or materially the same) arrangements would be put in place for any person receiving that treatment.

(5) A person is free to leave a particular place for the purposes of subsections (2) and (3) even if the person is unable to leave that place provided that if the person expressed a wish to leave the person would be enabled to do so.’

(2) In section 64(5) of that Act (interpretation) for the words from ‘same’ to the end substitute ‘meaning given by section 4ZA.’”—

This New Clause provides the meaning of “deprivation of liberty” for the purposes of the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

Brought up, and read the First time.

Photo of Caroline Dinenage Caroline Dinenage Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

The new clause provides statutory clarification in relation to the meaning of deprivation of liberty for the purposes of the Mental Capacity Act. The Mental Capacity Act defines a deprivation of liberty by reference to article 5 of the European convention on human rights. The proposed new clause adopts the same fundamental approach, by anchoring the meaning of deprivation of liberty to article 5.

As Committee members will be aware, the 2014 Supreme Court Cheshire West case changed what was commonly thought of as a deprivation of liberty, resulting in an eighteenfold increase in people entering the DoLS system, and applications are still growing year on year. That resulted in a significant rise in resource use for local authorities and the care sector, resulting in a backlog of over 125,000 people waiting for their applications to be authorised, as I have mentioned on numerous occasions during our debates.

The Law Commission was against a definition of a deprivation of liberty, but noble peers, stakeholders and the Joint Committee on Human Rights have all called for a definition to be included in the Bill, to bring proportionality to this situation and ensure that liberty protection safeguards are appropriately applied. The new clause does that by bringing clarity to prescribing circumstances, or exceptions, that are not a deprivation of liberty. If a person meets the conditions in one of its subsections, they are not being deprived of their liberty and so do not fall under the liberty protection safeguards. These subsections are drawn from case law.

The Department has decided not to include a full definition of a deprivation of liberty because primary legislation needs to be extremely clear and precise, and case law is constantly evolving. That makes it difficult to draft a definition that will remain sufficiently precise, given that the definition may change as case law develops. For that reason, we must be extremely wary of the unintended consequences of including a full definition in relation to such a complex matter. By taking this exclusionary approach, we will enable the definition to remain valid as new cases come forward, as there should be sufficient flexibility within the clause for case law to develop in parallel.

An important point to make Committee members aware of is that the clause would be accompanied by detailed statutory guidance and case studies within the code of practice. Here we would set out scenarios as workable examples of the subsections, to assist practitioners as they determine whether someone is being deprived of their liberty. I would like to assure colleagues that these supporting materials will give the detail and depth required for those in the sector, and local authorities, to identify a deprivation of liberty. We are working with stakeholders already to gather these scenarios in a wide range of settings, including care homes, private domestic settings and supported living. The clause would apply to 16 and 17-year-olds, as the rest of the Bill does, but we recognise that the circumstances of this vulnerable group of people can be different, and that will also be reflected in the guidance.

The inclusion of a clause in relation to consent has been carefully considered, but one has not been included. That is for several reasons. First, to give valid consent, an individual would need capacity, as set out by the Mental Capacity Act. If they have capacity and are consenting to the arrangements, then that automatically cannot be a deprivation of liberty. Secondly, there is not enough in case law to support the validity of de facto consent—that is, consent given by someone without capacity—and I am concerned that it would not be compatible with the Human Rights Act 1998. Above all, we must protect the rights of cared-for people.

The new clause will clarify issues post Cheshire West, it will determine when the LPS should and should not apply, and it will support those planning care in considering the least restrictive options to enable greater freedom for those in their care.

Photo of Barbara Keeley Barbara Keeley Shadow Minister (Mental Health and Social Care) 3:15 pm, 22nd January 2019

Over the last few sessions, we have talked at great length about when it is appropriate to deprive somebody of their liberty and how can we prevent this being done inappropriately. We have talked about the safeguards that could be put in place to protect the cared-for person. I regret to say that, as we speak now, the Bill contains fewer and weaker safeguards than the Opposition would have liked.

However, we are not quite finished yet. We have one substantial amendment left to discuss. There is one question that anyone watching these proceedings will no doubt have been asking themselves: what precisely do we mean when we talk about depriving somebody of their liberty? In practice, what does that legal term mean? As the Minister said, the term itself comes from the European convention on human rights. Article 5 says:

“Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be deprived of his liberty save in the following cases in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law”.

One of those cases is that of

“the lawful detention of persons for the prevention of the spreading of infectious diseases, of persons of unsound mind, alcoholics or drug addicts or vagrants.”

It is the provision relating to “persons of unsound mind” that we are discussing in this Bill. I am glad to say that the Bill itself no longer uses the somewhat stigmatising phrase “unsound mind” and instead talks of having a “mental disorder”. That may not be to the letter of article 5, but it is preferable.

As always with the European convention, the terms used do not give us an immediate definition of what counts as deprivation of liberty. That task is frequently left to the courts. In 2014 the Supreme Court ruling in the case of Cheshire West and Chester Council v. P drew a far broader definition of deprivation of liberty than had previously applied. We have referred to that case on a number of occasions during the Committee. This broadening led to the number of applications for deprivation of liberty safeguards increasing by a factor of 17, rising from around 13,000 in 2013-14 to over 225,000 in 2017-18. That is a major reason for the backlog of applications discussed in this Committee.

Cheshire West and Chester Council v. P set out an acid test that should be followed when deciding if somebody is deprived of their liberty. Unfortunately, that acid test is not as clearcut as might have been desired. In her judgment, Lady Hale referred to “complete supervision and control” and the person being “not free to leave”. For Lord Neuberger, the crucial conditions were

“continuous supervision and control and lack of freedom to leave”,

as well as the

“area and period of confinement”.

Lord Kerr went further, and focused on the duration for which a person is restricted.

When the Government set out their plans to reform the deprivation of liberty safeguards, there were calls for them to include a statutory definition of deprivation of liberty. As the Minister said, there were many calls in the House of Lords. A definition would provide practitioners and cared-for people with greater surety as to whether deprivation of liberty was taking place.

I am glad the Government have listened in this one case, but there are issues with the definition we have, and some matters on which I hope the Minister can provide us with clarity. There are two strands of objection to the Government’s proposed definition, both of which have been strongly put to me by stakeholders.

The first major objection is that it is not clear how the proposed definition would interact with case law. The Minister has referred to this, but we need to be clearer. Not only is there the case of Cheshire West and Chester Council v. P, but there are a number of judgments handed down by the European Court of Human Rights. My question to the Minister is, is this deliberate or accidental? If it is deliberate, why does she feel that a brief definition—on which there has not been wide consultation—is better placed to define deprivation of liberty than an extensive body of case law? We had a meeting with stakeholders, and half the people in the room had not seen the definition at that point—it had not been circulated. If the change is accidental, then I look forward to hearing how the Government will rectify the situation.

One of the immediately apparent issues in the definition is proposed new subsection (3)(b). This holds that a person is not deprived of their liberty if

“the person is free to leave the place temporarily”.

In the case of Cheshire West, MIG, MEG and P frequently left their accommodation to go on outings with support, yet the Supreme Court held that they were still deprived of their liberty. Given this, will the Minister confirm whether her definition does not properly describe the case law, or is she seeking to overrule the Supreme Court through this new clause?

It is not just the Supreme Court that has disagreed with this principle. One of the landmark cases heard by the European Court of Human Rights in relation to mental capacity is Stanev v. Bulgaria. Mr Stanev was a man with learning disabilities who lived in an isolated care home in rural Bulgaria. He was permitted to go on trips and outings on his own. However, to do so he had to ask permission from the care home where he was resident. When he tried to leave for longer than was expected, the care home took steps to force him to return. The European Court of Human Rights was clear that that amounted to a deprivation of his liberty.

Other cases have been raised in evidence to this Committee that show how temporary outings from a setting do not mean that someone has not been deprived of their liberty. In both DD v. Lithuania and K v. Poland, the individuals were allowed outside the residential establishment, but only with permission, and under the control and supervision, of the management of the facility.

It is clear that both the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom and the European Court of Human Rights feel that being able to leave temporarily is not a guarantee that somebody is not deprived of their liberty. Yet the Government are proposing the opposite. I cannot understand how they think this definition will withstand challenge in the courts.

I also raise a concern about the phrase “continuous supervision”, as used in proposed new subsection (3)(a). In Cheshire West and Chester Council v. P, both Lady Hale and Lord Neuberger referred to continuous supervision and control. That is a crucial difference.

I hope the Minister can provide clarity. Is her amendment failing to describe adequately the case law, or is it seeking to overrule the judgment handed down by the Supreme Court? That would create a number of issues. The first, and most serious, is that the new liberty protection safeguards will fail to protect all the people who need them. An ambiguous definition of deprivation of liberty risks seeing people excluded when they should not be.

The second issue is more mundane. If I can see a number of tensions between case law and the Government proposal, I am sure there will be numerous lawyers who specialise in this topic who will have done the same. That will result in further costly litigation in future. I am sure the Government did not intend to create a hefty legal bill for responsible bodies, but I am afraid that may well be what the Bill does.

It has been suggested to me that one reason the definition is so tightly drawn is to reduce the number of people who are subject to the liberty protection safeguards. I feel sure that was not the Minister’s intention, but when a statutory definition seeks to define deprivation of liberty more tightly than the courts do, she will understand that people draw their own conclusions.

We must be careful that we do not resolve the issue in front of us by sweeping it under the carpet. Reducing the backlog should not be achieved by redefining which groups of people are covered. That runs the risk of people who need the protections of a liberty protection safeguard being denied them.

The second major objection to this definition is that it is not sufficiently clear as to be useful. I have seen examples that I think illustrate that particularly well, and I will share some of them now. I should stress that, although they are based on real cases and on the views of care home managers on how they interact with the proposed definition, some details have been changed to protect the cared-for people. I would like to thank Care England—the representative body for care homes—for assisting with the preparation of these examples.

The first case is that of Jimmy, who lives with an alcohol-related dementia in a specialist care home that allows no access to alcohol. He was admitted having had an extremely squalid lifestyle and was found to have advanced cirrhosis of the liver. If he drinks alcohol, it will kill him very rapidly and unpleasantly. He lacks capacity to consent to remain and was admitted from hospital after treatment for a broken hip, which he could not explain.

Jimmy has been in the care home for five years, successfully abstinent, except for one episode when he was permitted to go out alone. When he goes out, it is with staff, so he cannot drink. He says he “quite likes” the care home and the food and that the staff are kind, but he is obsessed with living alone in a flat in the community, and is open about the fact that that is only so he could drink.

The local authority is clear that it could not fund the necessary staffing to prevent him from drinking in the community and provide the help he needs with daily living. So is Jimmy deprived of liberty? It would certainly seem so. He wants to move somewhere else, but that request has been denied. It might be in his best interests to remain, but it is not his preference. Under the Government’s amendment, he would not be seen as deprived of his liberty. He is not subject to continuous supervision while in the care home, and he is able to go on outings with supervision. Either of those would exclude him from the Government’s proposed definition.

In reality, this case is based on that of DM in 2017. DM was enabled by article 5 to challenge the authorisation of a deprivation of liberty safeguard. The case went to court, where a judge eventually ruled that the least worst option was for him to stay in the care home for the duration of the authorisation. Both the judge in DM’s case and the Official Solicitor were clear that DM was deprived of his liberty. Which is to take precedence—the Government’s definition or previous decisions of the courts, as in this case? If we pass this definition, will DM suddenly cease to be deprived of his liberty?

A second case is that of Sara, who is 21 and has a learning disability. She was moved from her family home to a care home following a safeguarding alert caused by bruising that was thought to be the result of physical abuse by a family member, but evidence swiftly emerged that she had been seen to punch herself when arguing with another young person on an outing. The local authority refused to return her to the family home, stating that she was settled in the care home and showed no signs of wanting to return. Her parents visit her and take her out with her siblings. Within the care home she has privacy in her bedroom, so she is not regarded as being under continuous supervision. Sara has no verbal communication, but carers and others noted that when her visitors were leaving she would take her clothes off their hangers, put them in a bag and then drag the bag to the door while holding the hand of the visitor.

According to the Government’s proposal, Sara is not deprived of her liberty; she is not subject to continuous supervision and she is allowed to go on outings. Furthermore, the local authority says that she is happy in the care home and has not expressed any desire to leave. On this basis, the local authority says, there is no deprivation of liberty. It is clear that if Sara wanted to move, she would be enabled to. Because Sara is not seen as being deprived of her liberty under the proposed definition, she and her parents would be powerless to enable her to access the rights that article 5 would give her.

In that case, the disproportionate response to the original bruising, which had in fact been satisfactorily explained, and the nature of Sara’s objection to being forced to live away from her home being non-verbal were only noted as part of the investigation by the Court of Protection. This happened only when Sara’s representative challenged a deprivation of liberty safeguard authorisation on her behalf. If she was not recognised as being deprived of her liberty, this could not happen. The court was appalled that her unhappiness and wish to be at home were not recognised.

The purpose of any definition is to provide absolute clarity to practitioners and, perhaps more importantly, cared-for people and their families. It exists to tell people when they are deprived of their liberty and thus have certain rights that can be engaged. As such, it is of little use if people cannot use it to make such a determination. At the moment, the definition does not serve this purpose. Had P read this definition, they would almost certainly have concluded that they were not deprived of their liberty, and their case would never have gone to court.

I know that the Government have said that their code of practice will contain far more detail on how this definition will be applied. Once again, the Minister is asking us to accept assurances that everything will be fine, when we have no evidence to suggest that this will be the case. A detailed code of practice would not in and of itself prevent this definition from being ruled incompatible with the European convention on human rights. The law is what it says, and a code of practice exists only to provide guidance on its interpretation.

I hope that I have explained why we have deep reservations about the definition that the Government have put forward. We have not tabled any amendments that seek to alter the Government’s proposed definition of deprivation of liberty, but let me be clear that that is not because we feel that it is fit for purpose. This is an issue of immense importance and complexity and should be treated as such. The reality is that the Government have done no such thing. Their definition was introduced late on and stakeholders had very little time to make their views known.

This is a fundamental pillar of our human rights system. A definition that attempts to distil and seemingly alter a huge body of case law is not a straightforward insertion and it cannot be rushed through. If we get this wrong, we will be letting down tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of people who are deprived of their liberty and need access to the safeguards of the LPS system.

Our view on what should happen now is clear. The Government should withdraw their new clause, put their proposed definition out to a wide public consultation and listen to what experts have to say. Once they have done that and produced a definition that carries broad support, they should introduce it on Report. If they remain determined to rush the Bill through, they should introduce it at a later date. If they do not do so, they risk creating a legal mess.

On Second Reading I said that nobody wants to create a Bill that requires amendment some months or years down the line. This new clause would do just that. It is pitted against decisions of the Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights.

Photo of Barbara Keeley Barbara Keeley Shadow Minister (Mental Health and Social Care)

No, I welcomed the fact that the Government were trying to put in a definition, but this definition is not fit for purpose. The problem is that, as with everything else in the Bill, it was rushed. At the meeting I had with stakeholders not very many weeks ago, almost everyone in the room had fears about it. Many of them had not even seen it. The process has been wrong.

I made it clear to the Minister what I think the Government should do. They should withdraw new clause 1 and not put it to a vote. They should put the definition out to consultation, and not introduce it again until those involved with the definition are happy with it. Then we can be clear. Pitting a Government decision against decisions of the Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights is not wise; it is a knotty problem. I am not a lawyer myself, but I have listened enough to people who are experts in this area to know that it is a problem.

Perhaps I can encapsulate the problem in one final question to the Minister. On the front of the Bill the Secretary of State certifies that he feels it is compatible with the European convention on human rights. Given some of the points that I have just raised about the definition, is the Minister confident that the Bill would still be compatible if we agreed to the new clause?

Photo of Alex Norris Alex Norris Labour/Co-operative, Nottingham North

Liberty, Mind, the Alzheimer’s Society, the National Autistic Society, POhWER, Parkinson’s UK, the British Institute of Human Rights, Sense, Compassion in Dying, YoungMinds, Learning Disability England and Headway all say that this is “rushed, incomplete and unworkable”, and that in general they feel the whole exercise is entirely unfit. It is well within the prerogative of the Government of the day to say that they are right and that all those organisations are wrong, but it is, dare I say it, quite a brave thing to do. For the benefit of the Committee, and of everybody else who has taken an interest in these proceedings, it might be worth explaining why the Government feel that they are right and the Bill is fit for purpose, and that the new clause, which very much puts the cherry on top of the Bill, is worth standing part of it.

Photo of Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi Labour, Slough

Does my hon. Friend agree that that is an indictment of the whole process, and of the rushed manner in which the Bill has been introduced? To have one organisation from among those 13 eminent organisations come forward in The Times today and use words such as “rushed”, “incomplete”, “unworkable”, “unfit” and “dysfunctional” would be bad enough; to have all 13 do so makes the entire process look like complete folly.

Photo of Alex Norris Alex Norris Labour/Co-operative, Nottingham North

I completely agree. To me it is a big, blinking red light that says that perhaps we need to pause and think again. Nothing typifies that more than new clause 1. It is helpful to have a definition in the Bill, and there is broad support for that. I also have some sympathy for its being exclusionary, rather than put in a positive manner, because we know, irrespective of what ends up in the Bill, that it will end up in court.

This is a hotly contested area of case law. It feels a bit like what it must be like to be an American legislator—we are almost waiting for what we do to be tested in court to see if it is okay. I have no doubt, with things as they are currently comprised, that we will be back. I do not know whether it will be a couple of months down the line or a couple of years, but if we carry on we will certainly be back.

The approach laid out by my hon. Friend the Member for Worsley and Eccles South is sensible and proportionate, and it might give us an opportunity to resolve the issue, by sending the new clause, which has appeared between stages, to the sector and asking, “How do you feel about this?” in order to get some engagement. That would give us more time for the lawyers to do their thing too. That seems quite sensible.

It would also give us a chance to take a breath on the whole Bill, and a little more time to see whether we can resolve some of the issues that we have discussed over the last two weeks. Many of the things we as an Opposition have put forward have had merit; perhaps our approach has not always been perfect, but to find better ways to try to address those things would be good for us all.

I will move on to my second concern. If new clause 1 becomes part of the Bill and the Bill becomes an Act, the smoke will come out of this place and send a clear signal: “We know that DoLS doesn’t work and hasn’t worked for a long time. Here is what is going to come next. Here is what we mean by ‘deprivation of liberty’ and here is what you can expect.” I maintain my anxiety that we will have only solved half of the problem, or one of two problems, because it is entirely possible for a big problem—in this case DoLS, the backlog and people’s experiences of that process—to be multifactorial.

No one has contested the fact that the DoLS system did not work and ought to be replaced, but there is a big, yawning and currently unanswered question of resources. I was concerned to hear the Minister say that they are the result of political decisions. I have been in that chair, as the local adult services lead on my council for three years, wrestling with DoLS. Is it a political decision? Yes, maybe it is, in the sense that we are basically trying to juggle whether to deal with assessing new people on their social care needs, assessing whether the needs of people currently in the social care system have gone up or down or, indeed, areas such as DoLS, all of which carry enormous risk to an individual, a local authority and a community as a whole.

In the sense that it is a political choice, it is like saying, “Your house is on fire; are you going to put out the lounge or the kitchen first?” You would just grab the bucket of water and chuck it at it, frankly. There is no political decision in that, or certainly not one of due prioritisation. Ultimately, if we are going to include this new clause in the Bill to set up the new system and legislation to set the new way, we must have absolute clarity that the finances are going to be met. Otherwise, the system will fail and we will, certainly with new clause 1, have elevated people’s expectations. At the moment people expect to be disappointed, because they know the system does not work. Now we are going to tell them that we have a new system that works, and then it will not. I suspect that is why all those eminent organisations have said that it is where it is.

On this point and on others, I feel that we on the Opposition Benches have made strong arguments about ways of improving the Bill, but it is not just us. It is not just partisan knockabout; it is not political. It is not a case where the Government say one thing so therefore the Opposition oppose. We should look at the organisations that are also saying, with flashing lights, “Please stop and have a think about this.” Otherwise, as I say, we will be back.

Photo of Caroline Dinenage Caroline Dinenage Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

I think it would be helpful if I began by setting out how we got to where we are, for the sake of clarity, although I know that many hon. Members know this. The case of MIG and MEG and P widened the understanding of the scope of deprivation of liberty safeguards with the Supreme Court decision that:

“A gilded cage is still a cage”.

Even though the cared-for person was happy in their situation, it was still a deprivation of liberty and required safeguard. The acid test set out by Baroness Hale in Cheshire West had two limbs: first, is the person is subject to continuous supervision and control, and secondly, is the person free to leave? We can see that test running through this clause. We cannot directly challenge or go against Cheshire West, as it is the Supreme Court’s articulation of article 5, and our Bill must be compliant with the European convention on human rights. That is why deprivation of liberty continues to be defined by reference to article 5 of the ECHR.

We are confident that the exceptions in subsections (2) to (4) represent existing case law. The clause defines deprivation of liberty in that way, and the subsections are consistent with and drawn from existing case law—for example, as I have detailed, subsections (2) and (3) are based on the Cheshire West acid test. It is unlikely that there will be a mismatch between our clause and the High Court’s view; it may be that the clause is subject to litigation in future, but we are confident that the Government’s approach of providing for situations that would not constitute a deprivation of liberty will give sufficient flexibility for the meaning of the clause to develop alongside case law as that evolves.

Much of the discussion has emphasised how incredibly complex a legal matter this is; the clause must be drafted incredibly carefully to ensure that it is legally compliant. We have worked with other Government Departments such as the Ministry of Justice to develop the clause. We listened to stakeholders and peers during the progress of the Bill through the House of Lords to understand their requirements for a definition and drafted the new clause in a way that would achieve what they wanted legally. Since drafting it, we have shared it with stakeholders to explore its impact. We are consulting a wide variety of organisations to gather case studies, which we will use in the statutory guidance.

Photo of Steve McCabe Steve McCabe Labour, Birmingham, Selly Oak

I wonder whether the Minister can explain how, if there was consultation with stakeholders, my hon. Friend the Member for Worsley and Eccles South has that impressive list of organisations with such grave reservations. That suggests the consultation was a bit inadequate.

Photo of Caroline Dinenage Caroline Dinenage Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

The decision to put the definition in the Bill was made in the House of Lords. We had to work carefully on the definition. That information has been shared with stakeholders only in the past couple of weeks. The definition is where we have been working most latterly.

Stakeholders have agreed to work with us and to bring forward case studies that we can put in the statutory guidance that will make it very clear how the Bill will work in every instance and for all the different types of vulnerable people we have discussed. That is what we need to provide clarity. Those case studies will demonstrate how the exceptions will apply in different settings and scenarios, provide clarity, and aid practitioners in identifying when one of the exceptions applies. We are working with stakeholders to co-produce that guidance to ensure that it is clear, unambiguous and of real help to those who use it. It would not be appropriate to include that kind of detail in primary legislation. As I have tried to articulate, the new clause needs to be precise and to fit with evolving case law.

Photo of Barbara Keeley Barbara Keeley Shadow Minister (Mental Health and Social Care)

I constantly get the feeling when I listen to the Minister that she is describing a happy situation that, unfortunately, the evidence suggests does not exist. The notion that she is co-producing the definition with stakeholders is not what stakeholders say. My hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham North and I read out the list of organisations that object to the Bill and the severe comments they have made about it. If the Minister were in fact co-producing parts of the Bill and the definition with stakeholders, they would not be writing to The Times describing the Bill in that way.

Photo of Caroline Dinenage Caroline Dinenage Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

We are talking about the definition. I am not saying we have co-produced it with stakeholders, but we have given a copy of it to stakeholders, asked for their feedback and asked them to supply case studies. Some have welcomed it and see it as absolutely necessary to provide the clarity we are looking for.

The Law Commission report shows that overly cautious application of DoLS is unnecessary, but we want an effective system with access to safeguards, as required by article 5 rights. The hon. Lady raised a number of case studies, including Stanev v. Bulgaria, in which Mr Stanev needed permission to leave. We will make it very clear in the code that a person is not free to leave if they require approval or permission. That is also clarified in subsection (5) of proposed new section 4ZA of the Mental Capacity Act.

We intend to set out in the statutory guidance, by reference to case studies, how that should be interpreted. For example, we understand that in care homes, cared-for people are often left unsupervised for many hours of the day yet may still be regarded as being deprived of their liberty. We do not intend to exclude those people without discretion. We will set out in the guidance the circumstances in which someone should be regarded as not being under constant supervision, such as how frequently they are checked and the monitoring that is present. We are also conscious that “continuous supervision” means different things in different settings, and I welcome the contribution of my hon. Friends towards that.

There is also a sliding scale of situations we expect to be excluded by subsection (3)(b) of proposed new section 4ZA. We will expand on that in the guidance in consultation with stakeholders. For example, the place must be one to which the person has a wish to go rather than one solely of staff’s choosing. It is worth pointing out that both limbs of subsection (3) must be met for a person to be excluded by it. For example, if a person is not continually supervised in a care home but is not free to leave temporarily, the subsection does not apply.

Although we aim to bring clarity, we recognise that every case is different. I hope I have articulated that this will be a person-centric system. We do not want a one-size-fits-all approach, which is the problem with the system that we have now. That approach is no longer fit for purpose for such a vastly different and vulnerable group of individuals. With that in mind, I ask that new clause 1 stand part.

Photo of Barbara Keeley Barbara Keeley Shadow Minister (Mental Health and Social Care) 3:45 pm, 22nd January 2019

I gave some good examples of cases where the Government’s definition clashes with case law, which is why I think it will run into problems very soon. It is still the Opposition’s view that the Government should withdraw the new clause. As we said, they should put the proposed definition out to wide public consultation—passing it round a few individual stakeholders is not the way to do it—and listen to what experts say. Once they have done that and produced a definition that carries broad support, which they do not have at the moment, they should introduce it on Report, which needs time. If the Government are thinking of rushing to Report stage while so much is left in an unsatisfactory and poor situation—if they remain determined to hurry the Bill through—it should be introduced at a later date. The Opposition’s view is that the Government risk creating a legal mess should they not do that.

Question proposed, That the clause be read a Second time.

The Committee divided:

Ayes 8, Noes 7.

Division number 28 Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill [Lords] — Meaning of deprivation of liberty

Aye: 8 MPs

No: 7 MPs

Ayes: A-Z by last name

Nos: A-Z by last name

Question accordingly agreed to.

New clause 1 read a Second time, and added to the Bill.

Question proposed, That the Chair do report the Bill, as amended, to the House.

Photo of Barbara Keeley Barbara Keeley Shadow Minister (Mental Health and Social Care)

May I thank you, Mr Pritchard, and Mr Austin? In our first sitting, we not only had a horrible sauna of a room, but a number of us had not sat on a Bill Committee or, in my case, had not done so recently. There has been excellent chairing, supported very ably by the Clerk who we have had working with us. Everyone has done a wonderful job. The Hansard Reporters always do a wonderful job of making sense of what we churn out, and we have kept the Doorkeepers busy with many votes.

I said at the outset that we would proceed in the spirit of co-operation, which I think we have. The Opposition have treated this subject with respect for the required depth of scrutiny. It is only a short Bill and we have scrutinised it well, which is nothing less than cared-for people, who will be affected by it, deserve.

Given that they have worked very hard, I offer my sincere thanks to my hon. Friends, who have contributed so thoughtfully and carefully to this important debate. My hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak has been assiduous at getting to the heart of the Bill. My hon. Friend the Member for Stockton North brought his critical eye—he tells us it comes from being a journalist—to this very complex Bill, and he explored the issues with great humanity.

My hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham North brought to our proceedings his immense knowledge of DoLS from his time as a councillor, and his other insights have been very useful. My hon. Friend the Member for Stockton South, who is not in his place at the moment, brought valuable insights from the perspective of a medical practitioner—that is always useful to have, as medical practitioners will have a role in the proposed system. My hon. Friend the Member for Slough made a number of a interventions and gave a very good speech this morning, holding the Government to account in his debut on a Bill Committee. Our hard-working and wonderful Whip, my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol West, worked with the Government Whip to ensure that proceedings ran smoothly. My hon. Friend the Member for Dewsbury made some excellent contributions in her first appearance on a Bill Committee.

I thank the many stakeholders and practitioners who have written to us to express their concerns about the Bill, and who have worked with us. I also thank everybody who submitted evidence to the Committee—it must have been a real rush for people to get that evidence in. They are too many to name, but I will mention a few. Lucy Series has done sterling work in unpicking the legal ramifications of the Bill. POhWER and VoiceAbility provided many of the excellent case studies that have been used to demonstrate the importance of advocacy in caring and to highlight some of the issues facing the Government’s proposed definition of deprivation of liberty, which we just discussed.

I hope the Government will reflect on what we have discussed. Many areas of the Bill are still deficient, and the concerns of stakeholders have not been addressed. We will continue to work in a constructive spirit in order to build a system that protects the liberties of all cared-for people in our country.

Photo of Mark Pritchard Mark Pritchard Conservative, The Wrekin

Before I put the Question, I thank the hon. Lady for her thanks. It is always wise to thank the Government and Opposition Whips. I had not noticed that it was the first time on a Committee for so many colleagues. It has been an absolute delight, because everybody has conducted the business so professionally. I put on record my thanks to my co-Chairman, the hon. Member for Dudley North—Dudley is a marvellous place and very close to my constituency—and to Adam, who has done a sterling job as the Clerk, keeping us on the straight and narrow. I join the hon. Lady in thanking the Doorkeepers, who do a great job—particularly opening the windows in the sauna that we had for a few days. I thank the Hansard Reporters and officials for their excellent work. Lastly, I thank all of you for being so well behaved. You are the best Bill Committee that I have served on, and I thank you very much indeed.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill, as amended, accordingly to be reported.

Committee rose.