Legislative Programme

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 11:50 am on 16th June 1999.

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Photo of Karen Whitefield Karen Whitefield Labour 11:50 am, 16th June 1999

I thank Mr Wallace for that intervention. I am happy with the legislative programme; I think that it will make a real difference to the people of Scotland and of Airdrie and Shotts.

I am here today to talk about incapable adults in my constituency, who have been to see me over the past few weeks to tell me how much they need this legislation. Existing legislation has let down the people of Airdrie and Shotts and of Scotland. There is a real need for a modern and comprehensive framework for the law governing the management of property, the financial affairs and the welfare of adults who are incapable of making decisions about those matters.

I am committed to making this Parliament work, because I believe that its policies have the potential to make a real difference to the lives of the people I represent. The incapable adults bill will do just that. At present, if a man develops dementia and he and his wife have a joint bank account, their account will be frozen. His wife will not be allowed to access their money, even to pay household bills. She will not be allowed to continue to manage their finances, even though she may have done so for all their married life. In future, banks will be allowed to set up simple procedures that will give access to reasonable sums of money.

I met a constituent last week who told me of his concerns about his wife's dementia and his concern that the doctors at the local hospital were not including him in decisions about her care. Today, he will be pleased to learn that in future there will be a legal obligation on doctors to consult him fully about medical decisions related to his wife's care.

Those are real problems affecting real people every day in Scotland. I welcome the introduction of this bill. It will encourage, promote and make possible greater independence for people who develop mental incapacity. At the same time, it will protect some of Scotland's most vulnerable citizens from abuse.