Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill: Commons Stages

18 December 2018

MPs debate the second reading of the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill in the House of Commons on Tuesday 18 December 2018.

Second reading

The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, opened the debate on behalf of the Government. The Health Secretary gave the following remarks:

"...we have a duty of care to the most vulnerable in our society, and that everybody deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, no matter what their physical or mental condition. I hope that the House will also agree that liberty is a fundamental right, and that no decision on the deprivation of liberty can ever be taken lightly. Such decisions can be taken only to protect society or individuals. There are currently 2 million people in this country who have impaired mental capacity. Care homes and hospitals often have to take decisions to restrict people’s movements in order to protect them. That could involve preventing elderly people with dementia from moving, or stopping vulnerable people getting access to things that they could use to self-harm. The present deprivation of liberty safeguards are meant to ensure that people who lack the capacity to make decisions for themselves are not deprived of their liberty unfairly or unnecessarily, but the current system is broken and needs to change.".

Shadow Minister for Mental Health and Social Care, Barbara Keeley, responded on behalf of the Opposition and commented on how "...the reform of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 requires methodical planning, but the truth is that the Bill has been rushed through without proper scrutiny, despite the best efforts of many people who are concerned about its contents and have been working to change it for the better. The fact that the Bill has less than two hours for Second Reading and was brought forward with just two sitting days’ notice speaks volumes of the speed that the Government are adopting in respect of the Bill, and will raise further concerns among those who care about these matters." 

Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill

Summary of the Bill

The Bill amends the Mental Capacity Act 2005, which provides a statutory framework for people who lack capacity to make decisions for themselves. The Bill is based on the recommendations of the Law Commission report Mental Capacity and Deprivation of Liberty, which was published together with the Law Commission’s draft Bill in March 2017. 

The Government’s Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill would reform the process for authorising arrangements which enable people, who lack capacity to consent, to be deprived of their liberty for the purpose of
delivering their care or treatment. This Government Explanatory Notes states this will include people with severe dementia, learning disabilities, head injuries and autistic spectrum disorder.

Keep up to date with all the proceedings and documentation, including amendment papers, on the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill and find out how a Bill becomes an Act of Parliament.

House of Commons Library analysis

The House of Commons Library produces briefing papers to inform MPs and their staff of key issues. The papers contain factual information and a range of opinions on each subject, and aim to be politically impartial.

The Library has published a briefing paper for Second Reading.

Image: Creative Commons

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