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October 2004

**An update on the Mental Capacity Bill**

Following fairly extensive debate on 11th October at it's 2nd Reading the Bill was passed by a majority of 183 votes.

If you want to look at the debate you can find it at:

The MDA got several mentions (mostly favourable) in the debate.

It will now go to a Standing Committee where it and amendments will be looked at in more detail.

MDA 2nd Reading Briefing

The Making Decisions Alliance (MDA) prepared a large number of amendments to the Bill and has been lobbying both the DCA and Parliamentarians to support our amendments. The main areas of concern are contained in the 2nd Reading Briefing which can be downloaded below:

We also held fringe meetings at all three party conferences which were well attended and the mental capacity spokespeople from all the parties spoke in broad support of the Bill though obviously the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats shared similar concerns to the MDA and are either planning their own amendments or willing to support MDA amendments. We also had speakers who spoke powerfully and eloquently from a personal perspective about how it would improve their lives.

The Bill is still coming in for considerable opposition from groups that argue that it will allow euthanasia "by omission" but the MDA has written to all MPs firmly reiterating that this is not the case and would not be supported in any way by the MDA. We have also had or plan meetings with those groups who are more actively opposing the Bill as there are some areas of common ground and the MDA is keen to work constructively where possible with those groups to help improve the Bill.

However, as many of you may be aware recent court rulings may well require significant changes in the Bill in any case. A recent ruling on life sustaining treatment indicated that where a person had laid out an advance statement indicating that they would want treatment to be provided should they lose capacity in the future should, as far as possible, be adhered to. This may strengthen the MDA's arguments that advance statements should be included in the Bill.

Another ruling by the European Court on the so-called Bournewood case may well have major implications for the level of safeguards in the Bill for the care and treatment of people without capacity who are neither consenting or refusing treatment. Again, the ruling may strengthen the MDA's arguments for increasing the safeguards and widening them out to cover other groups of people for whom this applies but are not currently covered by the Bill.

Finally the publication of a new Mental Health Bill has complicated the picture further as there are some overlap issues which need addressing. The Scrutiny Committee looking at the Mental Health Bill has specifically asked for people's views on this issue and the MDA is working with the Mental Health Alliance to look at this further.

Finally, there is a new Minister responsible for the Mental Capacity Bill, Baroness Cathy Ashton and she spoke at our fringe meeting at the Labour Party Conference. She has indicated a strong commitment to the Bill and has also been very open to listening to the MDA's concerns so as well as welcoming her into post we also look forward to working with her and her staff to ensure the Bill is as good as possible.

The information on this page was provided by members of the Making Decisions Alliance. It was last updated on22 December 2004.

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This website is run on behalf of the Making Decisions Alliance by the Mental Health Foundation / Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities, 9th Floor, Sea Containers House, 20 Upper Ground, London SE1 9QB. Tel: +44 (0)20 7803 1100. Press office tel: +44 (0)20 7803 1281. Email: Website:

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