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Law Commission Report: Mental Capacity

Volume 630: debated on Monday 30 October 2017

I am today announcing the publication of the Government’s interim response to the Law Commission’s report on Mental Capacity and Deprivation of Liberty, a copy of which is attached.

In England, around two million people with conditions such as dementia, learning disability or an acquired brain injury may be unable to always make decisions about their care or treatment, including where they live, because they lack mental capacity. In 2007, the Government amended the Mental Capacity Act to introduce the deprivation of liberty safeguards (DoLS), which provide a legal framework for such decisions. However, the framework has been subsequently criticised in both Houses, as well as by charities, local authorities and families. The current regime is inflexible and complex and the system is bureaucratic and unwieldly, meaning that it is unnecessarily cumbersome to ensure that vulnerable people are afforded the rights and protections to which they are entitled. The current system does not always empower people or place them at the heart of decision making about their care as set out by the Care Act 2016.

The Commission were asked to conduct a fundamental review of the deprivation of liberty safeguards provisions which are rooted in the Mental Capacity Act and integrated into healthcare practices for joined-up person-centred care. Our expressed priority at the time was that any new scheme delivers real tangible benefits for individuals and their families, and this remains the case. Any new scheme must improve the quality of care for people, improve access to safeguards and be cost-effective.

I welcome the publication of the Law Commission’s report, which we are carefully considering and thank them for their careful and considered work. We will now engage with a range of stakeholders to understand in greater detail how these changes can be implemented. We will also consider what enabling actions need to be taken to support the Mental Capacity Act ethos of greater empowerment and care centred around people, their wishes and aspirations.

This Government are committed to take action to reform mental health and to transforming care for people with conditions such as dementia, learning difficulties and autism. Action to reform the current deprivation of liberty safeguards regime is an important contribution towards achieving these aims including effectively protecting some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

The Government will provide their final response on the Law Commission report to the House in spring 2018.

Attachments can be viewed online at: http://www.