Mental Health and Incapacity Legislation (Review) – 19.03.19

David Stewart (Highlands and Islands) (Lab):
I thank the minister for the early sight of her statement.
The Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000 and the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003 were groundbreaking at the time but, in light of current international human rights laws, they look increasingly dated. Does the minister share my view that the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is a crucial touchstone?
Does the minister also share my view that the key question that needs to be asked about future policy and legislation is whether they will do more to support people to take decisions for themselves, even if they have a mental illness, dementia or an intellectual disability, and to give effect to their decisions?
The minister outlined that improvements in practice in relation to incapacity could be made without the need for legislative change. Will she give more detail on the proposed strategy and on the improvements in training and support for guardians?
Clare Haughey:
Mr Stewart asked me several questions, so I ask him to forgive me if I do not answer them all. I will be happy to write to him if I miss out anything that he asked about.
A significant feature of the work on adults with incapacity practice is the development of a supported decision-making strategy. Supported decision making aims to give people more support to make their own decisions about their lives and care, as is in keeping with the UNCRPD, which Mr Stewart mentioned. That review’s findings will enhance the work that is going forward.
As I mentioned in response to Annie Wells, our first priority will be revising the codes of practice on the power of attorney. That work will highlight the need for every adult in Scotland to consider appointing an attorney while they have the capacity to do so. Information will be provided on the rights and responsibilities of attorneys, on safeguards that are in place to protect individuals and on the sanctions that can be imposed for misusing the power of attorney. Those changes should substantively improve the delivery of services and the wellbeing of people who are impacted by AWI legislation.
I absolutely agree with Mr Stewart that the UNCRPD should be the touchstone for all that we do in legislation.
I apologise—I think that I have missed out one of Mr Stewart’s questions, but I will check the Official Report and write to him on that point.
The Deputy Presiding Officer:
Mr Stewart can mention the question that the minister missed out—but if he does not know what it was, he need not bother.
David Stewart:
I know which question was missed and, as always, I am happy to have two bites at the cherry.
The minister made it clear that we do not need legislation to make changes in, for example—
The Deputy Presiding Officer:
That is fine—we know now.
Clare Haughey:
I said that we believe that we can improve adults with incapacity practice without enacting further legislation. We can progress those improvements from now