Lords scrutinises Mental Capacity Act 2005 and asks: is it working?

28 June 2013

The House of Lords Committee on the Mental Capacity Act 2005 has published its call for evidence.

Chairman of the Committee, Lord Hardie, said:

“The Mental Capacity Act has been in force since 2007, and the time is right to scrutinise the legislation to see if it is working as Parliament intended. The Act provides protection for some of the most vulnerable members of our society and it is critical to understand whether implementation has delivered on what was promised in legislation.

“We will be examining whether the Government’s implementation programme was effective in embedding the guiding principles of the Act in every day practice, and whether there has been a noticeable change in the culture of care. We need to know how well the Act is understood by those who are affected by it. And we are very interested to hear about whether the safeguards contained in the Act are sufficient: are people able effectively to challenge decisions made under the Act? Is the Court of Protection accessible to those affected?

“We welcome all views from experts and those having first-hand experience of the Act, and would encourage anyone who has an interest to send us their evidence and contribute to the debate.”

The Committee will continue its inquiry on Tuesday 2 July at 10.35am by questioning Toby Williamson, from the Mental Health Foundation and Sue Brown, from Sense, both of whom were involved in the Making Decisions Alliance which campaigned for mental capacity legislation to be introduced in 2003. The Committee will be asking them whether the Mental Capacity Act has lived up to expectations.

They will be followed, at 11.25am, by:

  • Dr Pauline Heslop BSc, PhD, Team Manager of the confidential inquiry into premature deaths of people with learning disabilities (CIPOLD), Bristol University; and
  • Dr Margaret Flynn, former Chair of the serious case review into Winterbourne View.

The witnesses will be questioned on the impact of their findings on the implementation of the Mental Capacity Act; the importance of access to advocacy; examples of both good and bad practice; and at what point poor care becomes abuse under section 44 of the Mental Capacity Act.

The evidence sessions will take place on Tuesday 2 July from 10.35am in Committee Room 2.

The session will be webcast at www.parliamentlive.tv and is also open to the public. Journalists wishing to attend should go to Parliament’s Cromwell Green Entrance and should allow time for security screening.

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