Bill’s proposals ‘will make things worse’

The draft Mental Incapacity Bill risks damaging the rights of those
it seeks to protect, the joint parliamentary committee considering
the bill heard last week.

Jean Collins, director of learning difficulties charity Values Into
Action, told the committee that the proposal for a “general
authority” could make the situation for people with mental
incapacity “far worse than it is now”. Under the authority one
person would be given the power to make decisions for someone with
a mental incapacity.

Collins said she would prefer the bill to make it compulsory that a
person with a mental incapacity should have at least two, and
preferably three, other people supporting them and helping them to
make their own decisions. These people could include a family
member, a friend and a social worker, she added.

“There are many more dangers when just one other person is
involved,” she warned. “If there are two or three, they police one

West Sussex director of social services and chairperson of the
Association of Directors of Social Services disability committee
John Dixon echoed the potential problem of others being allowed to
make the decisions for those with mental capacity problems.

“We, the social workers, would not presume to speak for people who
have mental impairments, and we think that lawyers and others
should not do so either,” he told the committee at an earlier

Dixon added that he would like the bill to guarantee people with a
mental incapacity the right to an independent advocate, whose role
would be to make sure that those for whom they acted had their

The committee will report on the draft bill to parliament by the
end of November.

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