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Office of the Public Guardian

Volume 477: debated on Thursday 12 June 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what recent changes have taken place in the (a) senior personnel and (b) administrative practices of the Office of the Public Guardian; and if he will make a statement. (210150)

Richard Brook, the Public Guardian and Chief Executive of the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) informed the Ministry of Justice in April of his intention to resign in order to take up a position within the charity sector. Beyond Richard’s planned departure in July, there have been no other changes to senior staff within the OPG or Court of Protection. The Ministry of Justice, is currently in the process of appointing his successor and we will announce shortly.

The administrative practices in the Office of the Public Guardian are largely determined by its governing legislation, the Mental Capacity Act 2005. Those practices are kept under review but have not recently been changed, although additional resources—both staff and IT capacity—have been provided to deal with current high volumes of work.

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) how many Lasting Powers of Attorney have been registered by the Office of the Public Guardian under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 since their introduction; (209313)

(2) how many Enduring Powers of Attorney were registered by the Office of the Public Guardian between (a) October 2006 and October 2007 and (b) October 2005 and October 2006;

(3) what assessment he has made of the implementation of Lasting Powers of Attorney by the Office of the Public Guardian under the Mental Capacity Act 2005; and if he will make a statement.

In the eight-month period between the commencement of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 in October 2007 and 4 June 2008, the Office of the Public Guardian has completed registration of 3,429 Lasting Powers of Attorney. During the same period it has completed registration of 13,939 Enduring Powers of Attorney.

Before October 2007 the Court of Protection was responsible for registering Enduring Powers of Attorney. Between October 2005 and October 2006 the Court registered 17,319 Enduring Powers of Attorney and between October 2006 and October 2007 it registered 20,585 powers.

Those figures indicate a significant increase in the number of powers attorney that have been registered with the OPG in its first eight months of operation. The figures do not include those applications already received that are still being processed, or where the OPG has sought further information. In addition, the OPG is continuing to see increases in the number of applications from month to month.

The Office of the Public Guardian will be reviewing the effectiveness of the Mental Capacity Act from October 2008 once it has been operation for a full year and there has been an opportunity to see how well it is working in practice. As part of this review the OPG will be looking at the way the new Lasting Powers of Attorney are operating, including their design and the accompanying guidance and determining what changes might be necessary or desirable.