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This is an important and ethical Bill. Our progress on it has been fast, and much of today's debate has pertained to that. I think it right that, to meet the concerns of Members throughout the House, the Lord Chancellor undertook to continue discussions and negotiations until the eleventh hour, and I am pleased that Members have felt able to support the Government in the Lobbies on the basis of that. I am glad that we have achieved the ends, even if the means were a little unusual for Parliament.
Mr. McNamara: I apologise for intervening so early in my hon. Friend's speech, but can we take it that the Government accept completely, precisely and in terms the interpretation of the correspondence between the Lord Chancellor and Archbishop Smith that the archbishop gives in his letter dated today?
Mr. Lammy: I hope that my hon. Friend will forgive me if I say that I have been here all afternoon while others have continued the negotiations. We have talked about the exchange of letters. I have said that I accept the spirit of the intention behind the amendments. The discussion continues so that a draft amendment can be tabled in the other place, and can be debated here in due course.
As I said, I have been here while discussions have gone on. I am pleased that they have been going on, because they were part of an effort to make the Bill better. I want to pause for a moment, however, to explain why the Bill is so important and why organisations that work daily with vulnerable people who need such legislationorganisations such as the Alzheimer's Society, Scope, Mencap, the Disability Rights Commission and Age Concernsupport it. They support it because they want people who lack mental capacity to be valued and treated with respect.
Mr. Tom Clarke: I thank my hon. Friend for his courtesy throughout our proceedings. As he mentioned disability organisations, and as I asked the Minister of State, Department of Health, my hon. Friend the Member for Doncaster, Central (Ms Winterton) a question but unfortunately time ran out, will he confirm that the word "advocates" will be used rather than the word "consultees"?
Why have organisations that have campaigned on what are indeed advocacy issues, and have worked in particular with people with learning disabilities, supported the Bill? They want those who lack capacity at different points, or who lack it entirely, to be able to make as many decisions as possible. The Bill's decision-specific approach to capacity means an end to the days when people were labelled incapable. Instead, they will be assumed to have capacity for each and every decision until it is established that they lack it.
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Mrs. Browning: I served on the Scrutiny Committee and the Standing Committee, and I shall abstain on Third Reading tonight, as I did on Second Reading, because the Minister has not yet dealt with two key elements. First, end-of-life issues have not been dealt with satisfactorily here and they will now be passed to the other place. Secondly, as I said in Committee and as the Scrutiny Committee clearly recommended, we need to close the Bournewood gap. The Government have said nothing about how they intend to close that gap. Is the Minister going to use this Bill or existing mental health legislation to do so? He cannot afford to wait for the draft mental health Bill, which I am currently scrutinising.
Mr. Lammy: The hon. Lady has heard the substance of my remarks on the issues pertaining to life-sustaining treatment. We are where we are, and all of us must applaud the fact that we are beginning to settle these important and vexing issues. Throughout our proceedings the hon. Lady has raised the issue of the Bournewood gap, and as we have said, we must consult on that important decision. I hope that she realises that we are doing so, notwithstanding her concern about how the Government deal with the problems arising from that case post-consultation.
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