Disabled campaigners say the government must delay a controversial bill they believe would make it easier to restrict the freedom of people in care settings who lack capacity to make their own decisions.
Peers yesterday (Wednesday) began debating the committee stage of the mental capacity (amendment) bill, legislation that will affect an estimated 300,000 people in England and Wales with impairments including dementia, learning difficulties and brain injuries.
The bill would introduce a new system, Liberty Protection Safeguards (LPS), to replace the crisis-ridden Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS), for service-users who need to be deprived of their liberty as part of their care but are considered to lack the mental capacity to consent to those arrangements.
The bill is based on recommendations made by the Law Commission but critics say it is “significantly different” from the commission’s own draft bill and omits most of its most progressive elements.
Inclusion London believes the bill as it stands breaches four articles of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (on equal recognition before the law, on liberty and security of the person, on protecting the integrity of the person, and on independent living) and says it is “seriously concerned about the impact this bill will have on the human rights of disabled people”.
It says the bill will “significantly weaken the few existing protections” disabled people currently have and has called for its progress through parliament to be paused to allow people who would be affected by the proposals to respond to the government’s plans.
But it will also be working with other disabled people’s organisations, lawyers and academics to secure amendments to the bill.