Joint Committee on the Draft Mental Incapacity Bill Written Evidence

71.Memorandum from Mr John Mandry, Support Worker, SHOUT (MIB 689)

  I am writing on behalf of the committee and membership of SHOUT to raise our grave concerns about the above mentioned Bill, specifically Clauses 6 and 7. As they stand these appear to have little or no safeguards for people with learning disabilities.

  Clause 6 appears to start from nowhere, via somewhere and back to nowhere. It seems to be a somewhat insubstantial format given the consequences of the definition of incapacity. Surely some form of formal assessment should be made that is accountable in law, preferably by a panel or something akin? These should also review the incapacity at regular intervals. I would also hope that the person judged to be incapable would have recourse to appeal against decisions. This does not appear to be part of the Bill. If it is, then this is well hidden.

  Clause 7 subsection 1, which has an even more tenuous hold on reality, is also a really big worry. If there are not built-in safeguards or a code of practice like the one for the 1983 Mental Health Act (Clause 19) then it leaves much scope for abuse of all kinds.

  We fear that the above clauses, either separately or in concert will by accident or design end up denying people with learning difficulties real life choices. Given the paucity of resources generally available it could be a distinct possibility.

  As it is, we feel that people will suffer due to the somewhat simplistic view when applied to people with learning disabilities and feel that any legislation which affects them should be done as distinct law, rather than jumbled in as at present.

August 2003

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