I have been watching the progress of the Mental Capacity Bill closely. One of the reasons I, and many activists I’m sure, became involved in politics was because of our concern over mental health, the marginalised, and mental capacity issues. Indeed, my other half researches in this area, so I have an in-house expert on mental capacity and I’m well aware the law needs improving.
This is a very important piece of legislation which could apply to any of us. For example, if people are in care homes and are having to be locked in, protections are needed to make sure this deprivation of liberty is necessary for their safety and in accordance with their human rights.
This new piece of legislation aims to improve these protections for anyone who lacks capacity and may be deprived of liberty. It took the Liberal Democrats to lead a cross-party effort to force the Conservative Government to remove their exclusionary definition of the deprivation of liberty.
Our changes also included a commitment to review the Code of Practice.
Speaking ahead of the debate, Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson Judith Jolly said:
When this Bill arrived in Parliament from the Conservative Government last summer it was seriously flawed. Instead of improving the system, the original version of the Bill would have created more problems than already existed.
The Liberal Democrats, through working cross-party, helped secure numerous concessions from the Government and vastly improved what would have been shoddy legislation to secure better protections for all those in care.
I hope the Conservatives use this as a learning opportunity to not only recognise how much needed to be fixed, but ensure arrangements for enabling the care of people who lack the capacity to consent are properly resourced.
Today marks a victory for all those who worked to stand up for the rights of the most vulnerable.
My work with the Fragile X Society gives me further insight into vulnerable adults who live with this condition and protecting their human rights. There are so many examples of vulnerability in our society. Looking after the person and enabling them whilst protecting liberties and keeping people safe from harm is an important balance to get right. I’m glad we’re leading on this as Lib Dems.
* Kirsten Johnson is the PPC for North Devon and Day Editor of Lib Dem Voice.