Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill – highlights from final day of Lords Committee stage

The third and final day of Committee stage before the House of Lords took place yesterday, 22 October. The transcript can be found here. As per my post on the first and second days, this post sets out the key matters addressed by Lord O’Shaughnessy (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, DHSC) in response to an extensive series of probing amendments put forward by peers. All the amendments debated on 22October were withdrawn (or associated amendments not moved), so no changes have been made to the Bill at this point, although it is clear that a significant number of amendments are likely to be proposed at Report stage, both by the Government and by peers.

Interface with MHA, conflict with advance decision/decision of attorney or deputy and fluctuating capacity

Before I come to the substance of the amendments, I shall say two things. First, I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Murphy, that there is an urgency. To use the words of the Local Government Association, “the current system is unable to ensure there is adequate protection for human rights”. That is the reality of the situation that we find ourselves in at the moment.

Secondly, views about the perfection or otherwise of the Bill will vary across the House, but I hope that in the two days of Committee prior to this one I was able to demonstrate that the department and Ministers are absolutely committed to improving the Bill in any way that we can during its passage through Parliament, especially in this House where there are so many experts. I really think we have made some progress. I realise that that will not be enough to satisfy everyone and there is clearly much more to come—care home managers are clearly a big area of work that we need to focus on—but we have made some progress. I encourage noble Lords to continue in that mindset because I think we can reach a good outcome that deals with the fact that, as Age UK says, the system leaves,

“many highly vulnerable older people languishing without any legal protection at all”,

something none of us can accept. We stand ready to undertake that work, as noble Lords know, and I know they do so too.

I turn to the amendments in this group. Amendment 55, tabled by the noble Baronesses, Lady Barker and Lady Tyler, outlines the circumstances in which an authorisation ceases to have effect, particularly noting that authorisations should end if they conflict with a valid decision of a court-appointed deputy or a donee of a lasting power of attorney. The amendment also states that an authorisation would not cease to have an effect if a person’s capacity fluctuated, and would create regulation-making powers to define what constitutes fluctuating capacity.

Section 6(6) of the Mental Capacity Act already provides that action cannot be taken that conflicts with a lasting power of attorney or a deputy’s valid decision, and I can confirm that the Bill does not change that. This means that an authorisation can only be given if it is accordance with a valid decision,[1] so I hope I have provided reassurance on that front.

I can also confirm that if it emerges that an authorisation conflicts with a decision of a donee of a lasting power of attorney or by a court-appointed deputy, a review should be arranged under paragraph 31 of the Schedule. In particular, it will need to be considered if the attorney or deputy has valid and applicable powers to make this decision, and if the deprivation of liberty authorisation continues to be necessary. That means that in the event of such a conflict, the authorisation ceases to have effect. I hope that provides reassurance to the noble Baronesses on that point.

The noble Baroness, Lady Tyler, focused particularly on fluctuating capacity. I agree that an authorisation should not necessarily cease to have effect if a person’s capacity fluctuates and there are short periods of lucidity. That is currently the case under the DoLS system and I can confirm that it will continue under the liberty protections safeguards. However, as the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, brought to life, it is very difficult to define either “fluctuating” or “short”, particularly in legislation. For that reason, we do not think regulation-making powers are appropriate; we believe this would be better dealt with through a code of practice, which would allow for more detail and more regular updating but would also allow the use of case studies to bring examples to life. We plan to give much more detailed guidance in the new code of practice, and I reassure noble Lords that we will be working with the sector in order to produce it.

Amendments 56 and 58 from the noble Baronesses, Lady Barker and Lady Tyler, relate to the thorny issue of the interaction between mental health and mental capacity legislation. They would mean that an authorisation had effect in relation to arrangements that were not in accordance with mental health requirements. As noble Lords know, mental health requirements are conditions placed on Mental Health Act patients living in the community. Currently, DoLS authorisations no longer have effect if a person is subject to arrangements or conditions under the Mental Health Act and that authorisation would be in conflict. This means that the terms of a DoLS authorisation cannot conflict with those of, for example, Section 17 leave of absences. The Bill has been drafted to reflect the interaction that currently exists between the Mental Health Act and the Mental Capacity Act.

The review of the Mental Health Act has been mentioned in this debate. The review, chaired by Sir Simon Wessely, has been considering, among other things, the interaction between these two pieces of legislation. I know the noble Baroness, Lady Barker, has sincere concerns about the nature of that interaction and about why we are bringing forward this legislation now. My short answer is that urgent reform is needed for the reasons that we have set out, including the quotes that I have given. The contribution from the noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, was helpful, and I have put in my notes that I need to speak to Sir Simon Wessely myself to understand his perspective. However, if I have understood correctly, regardless of the timing of his report, the process of implementing his proposals will take some time to do properly. In our view, it is not right to wait until that has been perfected before we try to deal with many of the issues under consideration in the Bill in the light of the current inefficiencies of the DoLS system. It is for that reason that we want to push ahead. As I have said, I will take it upon myself to speak to Sir Simon Wessely and get a real understanding of his expectations on timing, and to try to understand from his point of view the scale of the interaction between these two pieces of legislation so that we really know what is at stake.

I think the noble Baroness herself said that the amendments are essentially probing. She will know that the effect of them would be that two authorisations could be live at the same time. I am confident that that is not what she is proposing, not least because it would have the perverse effect of requiring people to be in two places at once, so I know she was using this as an opportunity to discuss this question. As I said, it is important that we move ahead for the reasons that we have discussed, notwithstanding that the Government will of course consider incredibly carefully the findings in Sir Simon Wessely’s report and what action is required to implement his recommendations.

On a couple of occasions the noble Baroness, Lady Barker, referred to the consideration of harm to others. I am told that harm to others can be considered under the current DoLS system, so what is proposed is not a change from the current system. However, I will pick that point up with her offline so that we can really get to the bottom of it and ensure complete clarity to a degree that satisfies her. I hope that on that basis, the noble Baroness feels able to withdraw the amendment, and I look forward to discussing more of these issues throughout the evening.

Length of authorisation and renewals

I thank the noble Baronesses for tabling their amendments about renewals. I deal first with Amendment 58A, moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, which, as she said, would have the effect of meaning that authorisations cannot be renewed for longer than 12 months. As she pointed out, this would go against the Law Commission’s recommendation, which was that there could be circumstances under which renewals took place for up to three years, particularly following an initial review after up to 12 months and if it was unlikely that there would be a change in the person’s condition.

These three-year renewals are in place so that those who are in a stable condition and unlikely to recover are not subjected to annual assessments. The Bill does provide the safeguard—referred to by the noble Baroness—which ensures that an authorisation would need to be reviewed if there is a change. We would also want to make sure that there are appropriate reviews of arrangements when annual reviews under the Care Act take place. It would be up to the responsible body to set review periods. In care home settings, the care home manager must report to the responsible body on any reviews that have been carried out. As the Bill stands, there are significant safeguards to prevent abuse or lack of care of the vulnerable person.

All that being said, I know how strongly noble Lords and stakeholders feel about this issue. The noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, made a valid point about aligning the review process with the terms set out under the Care Act. I would like to give further thought to this, particularly in the context of the discussions which will be taking place about the proper role of the care home manager. There is clear concern about a proper system of oversight and regular review where responsibility has been devolved to the care home manager. If the noble Baroness will allow me, I will follow that up after this debate.

Amendment 58B, tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, considers an authorisation ceasing to be renewed if it has lapsed wholly or in part. We will want to give further consideration to that. As discussed earlier in Committee, there are circumstances under which one might be happy for an authorisation to continue after a very minor change. That might be the proper process to align this to, and I want to give further thought to this.

Amendment 58C asks that, when deciding whether to renew authorisations in care home cases, responsible bodies should consider other relevant information, as well as that provided by the care home manager. I can confirm that the Bill does allow responsible bodies to consider information other than that provided by the care home manager. That would, inevitably, be in other formats too. We will set out more detail on that in the code of practice.

Amendment 62A would add the word “arranging” to the scenarios in which the care home manager was required to notify the responsible body that an IMCA should be appointed. The amendment intends to make sure that that happens at the earliest stage, including when the assessments are being arranged. That is what the word “proposing” in the Bill achieves. We are satisfied that the language currently in the Bill means that care home managers would be looking at this issue when they are beginning to propose an authorisation, which is the earliest point at which planning for, arranging or bringing together the assessments would take place. I would be happy to demonstrate what underpins our belief that this is the case. I do understand what the noble Baroness is driving at; it is something which we are trying to achieve.

On that basis, I hope that the noble Baronesses are willing to withdraw or not move their amendments.

Training and qualifications of AMCPs

I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, for tabling these amendments and precipitating this discussion. I will move straight on to the substance of the amendments. Amendment 61 provides that local authorities must make arrangements for a named person to be in charge of training and revalidation of approved mental capacity professionals and that local authorities must make arrangements for contracts with neighbouring local authorities and health bodies as required.

On the issue of approvals and training, the Bill is clear that local authorities must approve individuals to become AMCPs, and regulations under paragraph 33 will make provision around training, qualifications and other eligibility criteria. The question of what kind of training there should be and who pays is something that we discussed at some length on the last Committee day. That was more in relation to care home managers, which was primarily the focus of the questions of the noble Lord, Lord Hunt. The same read-across applies to AMCPs as well. On that occasion, I committed to bringing forward more details of what the training would look like. I also confirmed that, in England, Health Education England and ADASS would be responsible for working with skills for care, and Social Work England. Those are the bodies that would be responsible for overseeing and designing the training. The noble Baroness, Lady Jolly, asked about the rights of individuals. Of course, that would be the centrepiece of any training programme to make sure that those rights are properly respected.

On the specific question about local authorities naming an individual, I say that the Bill does not prevent them doing so. It is something that they are able to do and, in our view, it does not need to be set out in primary legislation. There is no such requirement for best-interests assessors or approved mental health professionals, I understand, and that has not caused any difficulties in practice. To that extent, we can mimic the arrangements in place there.

Making arrangements with other local authorities is again not precluded by the Bill. Clearly, that is something that local authorities will want to do, depending on the arrangements they have commissioned in care across different authorities. I can confirm that we will provide guidance on this in the code of practice.

Amendment 61A adds to the criteria that must be met for a person to become an AMCP. They must be,

“a registered professional, with a minimum of three years clinical experience”.

A list sets out whom that could include; that list has been added to by one tonight, which in some senses exemplifies the nature of the problem. I completely agree with the noble Baroness: we need to set out not only the kind of professionals but the kind of qualifications and experience. There has to be a balance and a mix between all of those. That will be set out in regulations. The noble Baroness, Lady Barker, asked about the proper place to set out the rigidity or robustness, and we believe that the appropriate place would be in regulations, which provide a degree of flexibility that would not apply if we enshrined this in primary legislation. That is why we are proposing the approach of defining the groups that should be acting as AMCPs.


I am grateful to all the noble Baronesses for their amendments and for speaking in the debate on this group. Let me begin with a statement of principle. I accept the challenge from the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, that we need to move from principles to practicalities, or in our case to the appropriate legislation. There is genuinely no attempt in the Bill to restrict people’s access to independent advocacy. As has been clearly voiced, not only in this Chamber but elsewhere, there is a concern that that will be the effect of what is proposed, and that is something that we need to deal with. But let me say at the beginning that that is not the intention. It must be the case that anybody who needs support to navigate these difficult and complex situations must be able to find the right support for them. I will explain why the Bill is as it is in a moment, but let me at least give that statement of principle at the beginning.

I will deal now with the specific amendments in this group. Amendments 63 and 64 aim to ensure that the Bill is robust on the appointment of the IMCA. I completely agree that it is vital that the care home manager notifies the responsible body that an IMCA should be appointed. That is required by the Bill. However, I know that there is great concern about the impartiality of this person and a requirement for strengthening in this regard. It is also our position that a responsible body will be able to appoint an IMCA if there is a request by, for example, a family member or the person themselves, or if there is a disagreement with the notification given by a care home manager. I am considering how we can make the Bill clearer in that regard. As we home in on the issue of the incentives for the care home manager to follow best practice, as we would want, I am aware that we need to do more work on this to get it right.


The debate we had last week was very much around the proper role for the care “home” manager—I take on board the rejoinder from the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, about the specificity of terms. I do not want to rehash that debate, save to say that the care home manager model is the right one going forward, while recognising, as I did last week—here I agree with the noble Lord’s point—that there are a lot of concerns about conflicts of interest, training, the degree of responsibility and other things.

In this case, we are talking about notification of the appointment of an IMCA, where there is real concern that there is an element of marking your own homework. That is not what we are trying to achieve: we are trying to achieve the consideration of deprivation of liberty at the earliest possible point in care planning by somebody who is responsible for organising—although in lots of cases not personally delivering—that care. We are trying to deliver a more proportionate system than the one that we know is currently failing. As I committed to in last week’s Committee debate, I want to get that right. If we cannot get it right, the risk is that we end up replicating the system that we have now, which would be in nobody’s interests. I hope that, by restating that, I have satisfied the noble Lord.

Amendments 68, 71 and 72 relate to the criteria for appointing IMCAs. The Bill currently states that an IMCA should be appointed if a person has capacity to consent to being represented and supported by an IMCA and makes a request to the relevant person, and there is no appropriate person available. It also states that a cared-for person should be supported by an IMCA if the person lacks capacity to consent and being represented by an IMCA is in their best interests and there is no appropriate person in place.

I recognise the concern expressed by the noble Baronesses, Lady Barker and Lady Thornton, about the term “best interests”. Let me state again the intention that, in the vast majority of circumstances, we expect it would be in a cared-for person’s interests to receive representation and support from an IMCA or appropriate person. However, there may be a small number of circumstances where that is not the case. For example, if a person is adamant that they do not want this sort of representation, and has refused advocacy support in the past, it would not be right to impose such an advocate on them. If we remove the best interests consideration, we risk a situation where responsible bodies can override the past and present wishes of the person.


[…] the intention of this approach is to make sure that independent advocacy is not imposed on someone who genuinely does not want it. It is not to provide a “get out of jail free” card for poor care home managers. If that is a concern, I take it very seriously, but it is not the intention of the Bill. However, if it is the case, something needs to be remedied. Let me assure noble Lords that I will make best efforts to do so as we move forward from Committee.

This has been a very useful discussion. In some sense it has provided a degree of continuity from our discussion last week, while moving on to the issue of advocacy, which we will clearly explore further. I hope that, with the reassurances I have given at this stage, the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw her amendment.


I thank all noble Lords who have put their names to these amendments and given us the opportunity to carry on what has been a very good discussion so far about the important role of IMCAs and, indeed, appropriate persons as well. I shall deal first with Amendments 65, 66, 67, 69, 70 and 76 as they relate to the circumstances under which a person can request an IMCA and under which an IMCA can be appointed.

As I said in the previous debate, it is our intention not to have any reduction in advocacy or support as a consequence of the Bill. Indeed, it is our position that a responsible body should be able to appoint an IMCA if there is a request by a cared-for person or family member and either a care home manger has not provided notification or the responsible body disagrees with the notification given. As I also said then, I recognise concerns that the circumstances under which an IMCA can be appointed would be narrowed as a consequence of the Bill, which is not something we want to happen. I do not want to rehearse the entire debate we had last time other than to say that it was a good one. I have assured noble Lords about what I want to take away from that, which is to consider the appropriate way in which we can go forward with the role of the care home manager while making sure that all concerns about restrictions to advocacy and so on are adequately put to bed.

I want to make a point on Amendment 75, which falls into this set of amendments, about why the term “relevant person” is used. I am not quite sure why, specifically; rather, I have an idea, but I do not want to get it wrong. It would be safer for me to write to the noble Baroness, Lady Barker, about why that phrase is used and circulate it to noble Lords. Certainly, this is already a complex piece of legislation with lots of terms and jargon; for goodness’ sake, let us not increase that, if at all possible.

I want to take up the challenge from the noble Baroness, Lady Barker, on rights to information. During the previous debate, I tried to make it clear that we will set out the right to information but rights to information—not rights to request it—have been strengthened by a variety of legislation, some of which has nothing to do with the care of people lacking capacity. I also said last time that we are reviewing the Bill to see if it needs to be revised to achieve the outcome that the noble Baroness wants. I know that she is concerned about this, but work is under way to try to resolve this issue.

Moving on, we have not previously discussed the term “appropriate person”, which relates to Amendments 73, 74, 77 and 80. This is a good opportunity to speak about the important role of the appropriate person in the new model. As noble Lords know, under the DoLS system the relevant person representative—we are getting into difficulties of language—can be a family member, a paid role or even an advocate. That can unnecessarily give rights to two separate advocates. There has been confusion about the purpose of the RPR and how it differs to advocacy. Our intention is that the appropriate person role will be clearer, not least because it is a familiar part of the Care Act, where the appropriate person facilitates the person’s involvement in the care process.

Obviously, that person provides a vital safeguard for the cared-for person. They are appointed to represent and support the cared-for person, ensuring that the person’s rights are protected and that the person is fully involved in decisions. As I said, that is already established under the Care Act for the purposes of caring. The role of appropriate person can be fulfilled by a family member, someone close to the cared-for person, someone with lasting power of attorney or a volunteer. I know from previous discussions how keen noble Lords are to make sure that the voice of the person is central to discussions about their care and the deprivation of their liberty. Clearly, the appropriate person has an essential role here.

The noble Baroness, Lady Hollins, asked specifically about the question of a right to act. It is all very well appointing somebody—they also have to be willing to be appointed—but when appointing an appropriate person or recognising one, the responsible body has to be confident that the appropriate person is prepared to act. Indeed, that is part of their appropriateness. Otherwise, an IMCA should be appointed. That satisfies the noble Baroness’s question at the beginning about an appropriate person being appointed, but not about what happens if they lapse or the process by which they, or their appropriateness, would be reviewed. As it stands, I will need to reflect on that further to explain it to her. The process may well happen through the regular reviews, but I need to take that question away and think about how we provide reassurance that the appropriate person is in a position to act and wants to do so. Clearly, if an appropriate person, not an IMCA, was appointed but not prepared to act, the cared-for person would lapse into a situation where they did not have somebody in their corner, which we are all trying to avoid.

Amendment 78, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, relates to concerns that if a person is not represented and supported by an IMCA, they could be in a position where they object to authorisation but are not able to bring a challenge to the Court of Protection. It is worth saying that representation by an IMCA is one route to take a challenge to the Court of Protection, but it is not the only one. Cared-for persons can bring challenges themselves, however rare that may be, as can an appropriate person, family members and others. Ultimately, the responsible body would be responsible for ensuring that in such cases, the challenge is brought before the Court of Protection. That is already required by the Human Rights Act and has been confirmed by case law. Again, I would be happy to write to noble Lords to explain the underpinning of our view that this is already protected in law and jurisprudence.

Amendment 79, tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Hollins, and the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, would give the Secretary of State and Welsh Ministers regulation-making powers regarding the function of IMCAs. Such powers already exist in Section 36 of the Mental Capacity Act, so we do not think that there is a need for subsequent or additional ones.

This has been a long, wide-ranging group of amendments, but it has dealt with the crucial issue of how we support people who lack capacity to make sure that they are properly represented as their situation and care is considered under the liberty protection safeguards scheme. I hope that I have been able to reassure noble Lords either that their concerns are being dealt with in the Bill as it stands or that I recognise that there are other substantive issues that we need to take away and deal with. We need to make sure that there is no withdrawal or reduction in the amount of advocacy and support that is available for people, which, as I stated at the beginning of the last group, is not the intention of this Bill.

I hope, on that basis, that the noble Lord, Lord Touhig, will recognise that the Government intend to work together to make this Bill better. I think we are making some progress in that endeavour, and I am looking forward to working with him and all noble Lords to improve it further. On that basis, I hope that noble Lords will feel able not to press their amendments.

Advance consent and tort of private deprivation of liberty

I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, for introducing this clause stand part debate. We had a chat earlier, so I shall not formally respond to her but instead deal with the amendments as laid, if that is all right with everybody. Clearly, these are very important issues that need to be dealt with properly.

Amendment 84 would allow individuals to provide advance consent to arrangements enabling care or treatment that would otherwise amount to a deprivation of liberty. As noble Baronesses have commented, the Law Commission recommended that provision should be made in the Bill to allow this. This would mean saying that cared-for people entering certain settings, such as hospitals and end-of-life care, where the arrangements are predictable and time limited, would not be required to undergo additional assessments if they needed to be deprived of their liberty. In the Government’s response to the Law Commission, we agreed that people should have choice and control over future decisions being made on their behalf, but we said that we needed to look at the detail of this specific proposal. I understand that there is enthusiasm among some noble Lords for such a recommendation, particularly, as has been said, as a way of alleviating unnecessary assessments for those in palliative and end-of-life care.

On palliative care, before I get on to more general concerns, I think it is important to note that the Government have issued some guidance about consent in the context of palliative care in the last few weeks of life. I realise that this talks only about one part of the time period that we might be talking about. The guidance says that if an individual has capacity to consent to arrangements for their care at the time of their admission, or at a time before losing capacity, and does consent, this consent would cover the period until their death, hence there is no deprivation of liberty. However, the guidance is also clear that this consent would no longer be valid if significant extra restrictions were put in place, after this point, to which the person had not consented. So there is a situation that pertains to people right at the end of life and provides some opportunity for challenge if restrictions change.

If we extend that time period out, not just to weeks but to months and years, it has been brought to light in this debate that, while there is a desire to make sure that a person’s advance consent is taken seriously and given legal force, concerns have also been raised, not least by the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, about extending the application in such a way that it could actually deprive people of their protections and human rights. These are clearly concerns that we need to take seriously.

Concerns have also been expressed to the department, in engagement with stakeholders, that the inclusion in statute law of advance consent to being deprived of liberty might imply that there is an expectation that people should have an advance statement of wishes in place, and that people may be pressured into making an advance statement. I take the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Murphy, that in some ways planning for the future may be a good thing but, equally, we do not want to force people to plan for the future when their desire is not to. We protect the right of people to make bad decisions; that is an important part of a person having a sense of agency and autonomy. Concerns have been expressed that that would be put in danger and people would feel pressured to do something that they might not wish to do.

Clearly, the Law Commission made this recommendation with highly laudable aims. However, we have concerns and are not yet convinced of the merits of the amendment. We have tried to deal with some of the issues around integrating planning through the creation of a system based on the production of a care plan. We have talked about the inclusion of a statement of wishes. I would like to know more about the proposal of the noble Baroness, Lady Barker, about advance statements of wishes. I would like to follow that up and understand it a bit better. The process we are envisaging would allow the inclusion of advance decisions to refuse treatment as part of future care planning. That is not affected by what we are discussing here but that would be allowed. We are not convinced of the merits of the amendment—indeed, we have some concerns about the implications of it—but I would be keen to understand a bit more about previous discussions of this topic and whether there are other ways to provide that sense of agency for the person who will be cared for without producing undue pressure on them or legal force in a way that would go against their interests and, in legal terms, their human rights.

Amendment 85 would create a new civil court remedy against some private care providers, including non-NHS hospitals and private care homes, if they have deprived someone of their liberty unlawfully. Again, this provision was proposed by the Law Commission. However, we do not believe that a new legal remedy is required. There is already an ability to seek damages under the Human Rights Act on the basis of a breach of Article 5 and usually Article 8. This is available in private cases, where a private care provider is depriving a self-funder of their liberty unlawfully. A remedy could be sought against the public authority responsible for the deprivation. Obviously, we need to hold private care providers to the same standards that we hold public care providers to. There are already a number of mechanisms that allow for this, and the law provides for them. There is the criminal offence of false imprisonment, as well as the existing law of false imprisonment for civil claims. So people can already bring legal action against private care providers.

On top of this, the Care Quality Commission in England and the Care Inspectorate Wales would also ensure compliance with the liberty protection safeguards. Clearly, they have a range of enforcement actions available to them that apply to the public and private sector alike. Furthermore, as commissioners, local authorities will—and do—have a role in ensuring that private care providers fulfil their legal duties. The Government believe that sufficient levers are already in place and that the creation of an additional civil route could increase care providers’ insurance costs at a time when, as we all know, we are working hard to make sure that there is funding in the system to provide adequate and good-quality social care to everybody who needs it.

I understand and agree with the desire to hold private providers to the same standards that we hold public providers to, but we believe there are existing remedies within the system and there is no need to require or implement new ones. On that basis, I hope the noble Baroness will not move her amendments.


I am grateful to the noble Baronesses and the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, for tabling amendments in this group. I am very aware of the complexity of this issue. For a lay person such as me, some of the terminology can be confusing. I will do my level best to be as clear as humanly possible, but if I fail in that endeavour I will write to noble Lords and explain better what I am attempting to explain now.

The effect of Amendment 83, as the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, said, would be to confirm in law that a donee of a lasting power of attorney or a deputy appointed by the Court of Protection was unable to consent on a person’s behalf to a deprivation of liberty. If they could provide such consent, the person would not be considered to be deprived of their liberty and no safeguards would need to be provided.

The Law Commission report stated that it was already the position in law that a donee or deputy could not consent to a deprivation of liberty. We confirmed in our response to the Law Commission’s report that the Government agreed with its view on the current legal position, and the Bill does not change the current situation. While the Bill creates a duty to consult with any donee of the lasting power of attorney or a deputy, it does not enable a donee or deputy to consent to the deprivation of liberty on behalf of the cared-for person. In other words, under this Bill the cared-for person would still be deprived of their liberty in those circumstances and would still need to be provided with safeguards to satisfy Article 5, which is of course the whole purpose of DoLS and liberty protection safeguards. In that sense the amendment, with which we agree, would serve only to duplicate existing legislation and is not necessary. I hope I have provided an adequate explanation to noble Lords, but obviously I am willing to set out in more detail exactly why we believe the current situation is not changed by the Bill as it stands.

I turn to the amendments in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay. Amendment 83ZA would require the Office of the Public Guardian to provide documentation, which may be in electronic form, to identify the donor and donee or donees of a lasting power of attorney and to recall the documentation if the donee’s power is revoked. As the noble Baroness pointed out, this is designed to make it easier for attorneys to provide proof of the existence of a registered LPA. It is right that there ought to be a robust system of proving that there is a valid power. My understanding is that the Ministry of Justice and the Office of the Public Guardian are actively considering how to offer a digital means of providing evidence of a valid LPA, and we expect to bring forward proposals in due course. I am happy to pursue that further with colleagues in that department and that office to understand greater details of their plans and to share those with noble Lords if they are forthcoming, which I hope that they will be.

Amendment 87E, in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, would allow the donee of a lasting power of attorney to nominate someone to replace them if they were no longer able to fulfil their duties—I think that means if the lasting power of attorney was no longer able to fulfil their duties—while Amendment 87G would allow a replacement attorney to be nominated by the donor at the time of registering the LPA to take over the power if the donor decides to remove the power from the donee.

I do not need to reiterate to noble Lords just how critical it is to get the law and the rules in this area right; as the noble Baroness, Lady Watkins, pointed out, the rules around this would not apply only to this Bill. It is worth pointing out that there is provision in the original Mental Capacity Act to allow a person making a lasting power of attorney to nominate a replacement in the event that their attorney is unable to continue, but I think the point that the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, was getting at is that there is a slight chicken and egg situation here: at the point where they no longer have capacity but the person whom they have previously appointed is no longer able to fulfil their role or the cared-for person no longer wants them to do so, they cannot go back in a time machine and appoint someone else—in other words, they cannot know what they do not know. I have just made things really clear by getting all Donald Rumsfeld about it all.

Having said all that, I want to consider if there is a way of unlocking that paradox, but clearly the implications of that would go well beyond the remit of what we are discussing here. I do not want to make any promises that it is not in my power to keep. I would appreciate the opportunity to explore this further so that we can consider how to give the donor more opportunities to have a sense of choice and agency as they think ahead to the future. I would have thought that we must be able to provide for that without creating extra complications. I look forward to taking that up with the noble Baroness and other noble Lords who are interested in the topic. On that basis, I hope the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw her amendment.

Domestic deprivation of liberty, reports to be produced by Government and Court of Protection procedures

I am grateful to the noble Baronesses for leading this debate. Obviously, the bulk of the debate focused on Amendment 87C, which would exclude people residing in domestic settings, and we have discussed the merits of that approach. The noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, gave a thorough exploration of alternatives to the LPS system in a domestic setting. The noble Baroness, Lady Murphy, gave a passionate defence of the role of families in caring, which was perhaps accentuated by the noble Baroness, Lady Wilkins, talking about the need to avoid overzealous application of any new provision of deprivation of liberty safeguards. My noble friend Lady Barran talked particularly about the group of people who lack a care plan and their interaction with the care system if they go temporarily into a care home. For me, all that brought home that we have further work to do on the appropriate system that applies in a domestic setting, to put it shortly.

It was helpful that the noble Baroness, Lady Barker, told us the story about the vulnerable person. We all agree that something needs to happen in that case to check the actions of the family or help the family to do better. They may just not know what to do or be at their wits’ end—who knows? We can imagine how easy it is to fall into those situations not out of intention but out of pressure and circumstance. That debate highlighted how important it is to get that right. I absolutely want to avoid intrusion where it is not necessary, but equally we need to ensure that those people deprived of their liberty receive the proper protections due to them under Article 5 of the ECHR. This is an issue that clearly needs more work. The amendment was not designed to perfect the solution but rather to start the conversation, and it is absolutely one that we will take through with noble Lords.

I turn briefly to Amendment 83B, moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, which seeks to introduce a legal presumption that a person should give evidence in all Court of Protection proceedings. Obviously I agree with her about the importance of this issue. She called it a reasonable point and I think it more than reasonable. It is essential that in any court proceedings a person’s rights are protected and that the cared-for person has the opportunity to give evidence to the court in any case concerning the deprivation of liberty. I am happy to be able to confirm that this is already reflected in the Court of Protection rules. The court’s overriding objective under the rules is to deal with cases justly and at proportionate cost. They expressly include ensuring that the person’s interests and position are properly considered and that the parties are on an equal footing. A new set of rules was introduced less than a year ago. They include changes to ensure that a person is able to participate in proceedings. Specifically, rule 1.2 requires the court to consider in every case how best to secure the cared-for person’s participation. It sets out a range of options including the cared-for person addressing the court directly, indirectly or with support from a representative, a litigation friend or an accredited legal representative. I hope that that provides the noble Baroness with the clarification that she was looking for and that she will feel able to withdraw her amendment.


We have had a wide-ranging debate on areas where they would like to see various enactments, changes, reports and so on, before commencement and following implementation. I will attempt to deal with them thematically.

Amendment 86 requires that before commencement the Government must publish the code of practice and our response to the Mental Health Act review. Amendments 93 and 94 update Clause 5 to reflect this. I am happy to confirm that the Government will have published both of these before the new system commences.

Amendment 87 requires that the effectiveness of the Act is reviewed and a report laid in Parliament within a year of the Bill coming into force. As the noble Lord, Lord Touhig, just pointed out, Amendment 92 requires the Secretary of State to commission two independent reports on the operation of the new liberty protection safeguards scheme two and four years after the new system comes into force. Again, I am happy to assure noble Lords that the Government routinely conduct post-legislative scrutiny for all new Acts. The relevant guide says that within three to five years of Royal Assent the Government will be required to submit a memorandum to the relevant departmental select committee with a preliminary assessment of how the Act has worked in practice. I am happy to confirm that the Bill will receive such scrutiny and the Health Select Committee will be informed.

Amendment 87A, in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, details requirements regarding a number of topics. As he pointed out, a number of these have already been addressed in our debates, including unsound mind, issues around advance consent, the availability of non-means-tested legal aid, and others. We have had a debate on the rules and guidance around IMCAs, which we are clearly going to take forward. He focused on tribunals. The Government are reviewing the courts and tribunals system but that review has not concluded. We are not proposing to change the position on the Court of Protection hearing challenges to liberty protection safeguards in the Bill precisely because there is not yet an opinion or a policy change from the Government with regard to a proposed new system. He also asked about the cost implications, which are outlined in our impact assessment, as he will know.

The noble Lord’s second amendment, Amendment 87B, seeks to make the CQC the regulator for the liberty protection safeguards. The Bill allows for bodies to be prescribed to report and monitor the scheme and it is absolutely our intention that the CQC takes on this role in England. It clearly has an important role in oversight of the new system, although we are concerned that his amendment would introduce additional layers of regulation. It should also be pointed out that the CQC is an England-only organisation; in Wales, the overseeing regulators are expected to be Healthcare Inspectorate Wales and Care Inspectorate Wales, which will both take on this role.

Amendment 87D was tabled by my noble friend Lady Barran and the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay. It would require responsible bodies to consider criteria to be published by the Secretary of State around best interests and the least restrictive option before authorisations are approved under the liberty protection safeguards. These are of course absolutely key principles of the Mental Capacity Act, and responsible bodies will have to consider them as part of any authorisation. As I have set out in previous debates, these factors already form part of the necessary and proportionate assessments, as well as other factors such as considering the wishes and feelings of the person. We will explain in the code how this assessment should be carried out and the factors that assessors should have regard to. I am grateful to my noble friend for some suggestions in that regard and I have just confirmed that the code would be published before commencement of the new scheme.

Amendment 87F, in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Tyler, would remove the power of the Court of Protection to call for reports from local authorities and NHS bodies in cases relating to a cared-for person under the schedule. We think it is important, as I am sure she does, that the Court of Protection has access to such information but I heard the story that she told about an undue burden. I am certainly happy to commit to her that I will speak to colleagues in the Ministry of Justice to see whether there is any way that this process can be improved without removing the ability of the court to access the information it needs to make proper determinations.

Amendment 92A, in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, seeks to ensure that the liberty protection safeguards do not apply to any existing or pending DoLS authorisations. I can confirm that existing DoLS authorisations can continue until they are due for renewal or review. Clearly, depending on the final outcome of the Bill, the frequency with which those are renewed or reviewed will mean that there will be a steady stream of DoLS authorisations coming under the liberty protection safeguards in future, for those that are rolled over. Careful work will clearly need to be done with the sector to ensure that a tsunami of new authorisations does not happen but allowing for authorisations to continue under the previous system, until they can reach review or renewal, should go some way toward mitigating that risk.

Finally, Amendment 88, tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Tyler, states that regulations should be subject to the affirmative parliamentary procedure and a consultation requirement. We have of course asked the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee for its opinion on the regulation-making powers within the Bill and it has accepted that the negative procedure provides appropriate parliamentary oversight. As the Committee knows, we go against the DPRRC’s recommendations at our peril.

I apologise for detaining the Committee for six or seven minutes but I wanted to be thorough. I hope that I have been able to give the reassurances that noble Lords were looking for about the safeguards that we will put in place before commencement and the reviews of effectiveness to ensure that the system is working as intended. I hope that noble Lords will feel able to withdraw or not move their amendments.

Compatibility with Article 5

My Lords, this is a good way to finish our Committee proceedings. I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, and the noble Lord, Lord Touhig, for tabling the amendment, and I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Barker, for speaking to it.

Clearly, not only ought it to be the case that the Bill is compliant with Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights, but it is also important to make it clear, as I did at the point of the introduction of the Bill, that its provisions are compatible with Article 5. As noble Lords will know, and as becomes painfully clear when you become a Minister and you see your name on printed Bills giving these kinds of reassurances, that is a process that we need to go through before introducing legislation. Clearly, there are still concerns about whether the Bill can be improved in giving force, as the noble Lord pointed out, to the rights under Article 5. Nevertheless, it is my view that the Bill is compatible with the ECHR.

Furthermore, because of Section 3(1) of the Human Rights Act 1988, primary and subordinate legislation must be read and given effect to in a way that is compatible with convention rights. It is already the case that the Bill must be read and given effect to in a way that is compatible with Article 5. My concern with the approach here is therefore not so much one of repetition but one of partiality because it only talks about Article 5. There is therefore a risk that if we implied that this legislation had only to comply, or had a special duty to comply, with Article 5 of the convention rather than the whole convention, that would not reflect our responsibilities under the Human Rights Act. Indeed, it could downplay critical protections that exist in the ECHR, such as the Article 8 rights to family and private life. So while I understand the motivation behind tabling the amendment and using it as an opportunity to rehearse some of the desire to improve the actions that will safeguard the liberty and security of the person, I do not think it is right to put such a clause in the Bill precisely because the Government have a broad responsibility to ensure not only that the Bill is compliant but that it is read and given effect to in a way that is compatible with all convention rights.

I hope that has provided reassurance to noble Lords that our intention, and indeed our obligation, is to provide not only for those Article 5 rights but for all other rights that apply under the ECHR. I hope the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw her amendment.


[1] As I noted on in relation to the first day, strictly this is conflating two things. Section 5, to which the s.6(6) restriction applies, provides the ‘general authority’ to carry out acts of care and treatment. Section 5 cannot authorise deprivation of liberty – hence the need for DoLS, and, in future LPS – and the restriction in s.6(6) does not bite upon the grant or refusal of an LPS authorisation. However, Lord O’Shaughnessy must mean that one could not sensibly have in place a LPS authorisation which related to the delivery of care and treatment to a person to which the attorney/deputy objected and/or at a place to which the attorney/deputy objected. Query what would happen if the attorney/deputy did not object to the care and treatment (or the location) but objected to the nature of the restrictions in place to deliver that care/treatment – that would, presumably, be filtered through the prism of necessity and proportionality.

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