» Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Mental Capacity Bill

Asked if the PMOS could explain what would happen next with the Mental Capacity Bill and the feeling about how it was handled the PMOS said he would like to make a more general point first. People recognised, as was reflected in some of yesterday’s broadcast coverage, that this was a serious issue in which people did have a range of opinions. There was a need for clarification. The voices that we heard from yesterday, such as patients and leading charities, actually reflected the issues the Bill was trying to address. There were also concerns raised by the Catholic Church and others about the nature of this Bill and the Government felt it was right to address what we believed to be misconceptions about the Bill. This was what was going on yesterday, as encapsulated in the exchange of letters between the Lord Chancellor and the Archbishop of Cardiff. It was always difficult in circumstances where you had a fluid situation in a Parliamentary occasion that went for a set time and was not fluid. Therefore the Minister concerned was obviously operating in a difficult environment, one which when you were in this seat you had a certain sympathy for. As to what would happen next the assurances given by The Lord Chancellor would obviously be reflected in the amendments given in the House of Lords.

Asked if the Government would now be prepared to allow a free vote given that it was clearly a matter of conscience for many members the PMOS said, as he had said yesterday, that the Government’s view was that this did not actually create new legislation, rather it simply clarified existing legislation. It was not moving into new territory it was simply codifying what actually was the practice at the moment and therefore that was a clear distinction. Asked if the Prime Minister had telephoned Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor the PMOS said that we were aware of the Catholic Church’s concerns and the appropriate conversations had taken place.

Asked if the Prime Minister had spoken or sent any message to David Lammy as a result of the criticism he had received the PMOS said that the Prime Minister was aware that it was a difficult situation and Lord Falconer had himself acknowledged that on the Today Programme this morning. Coincidently this reminded him that the Today Programme had been very exercised about why the Prime Minister had not voted and he would like to take this chance to refer journalists to page three of today’s Guardian where you could see precisely why the Prime Minister was unable to vote given the stream of visitors that had come into Downing Street yesterday and been so recorded by the Guardian’s record of the day.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Search for related news

1 Comment »

  1. I wonder where the argument for the Mental Capacity Bill is now?

    I believe we all have a right to life. The 1948 Declaration of Human Rights Act surely gave us that.

    What new arguments do we need to contend with now, in the field of euthanasia that we have not heard before? Surely this is just history repeating itself.

    Please may the PMOS reply.

    Anne Brocklesby

    Comment by Anne Brocklesby — 31 Jan 2005 on 3:15 pm | Link

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