41.Supplementary memorandum from Mr Simon
Cramp (MIB 1214)
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak
at the oral evidence session of the Joint Committee on Tuesday,
21 October. I hope the Committee found my evidence useful. You
asked me to provide written answers to appropriate questions which
we did not have the opportunity to talk about in the session and
to say more, where I could, on anything the Committee asked me
about. I would like to comment further on the General Authority
to Act, the Court of Protection, the need for independent advocacy
and how to make the final Bill more accessible.
1. THE GENERAL
The General Authority as it is currently set
out would allow almost anyone to do almost anything. I think the
scope of this power and the types of decisions which should be
made under it needs to be tightened.
People with a learning disability are very fearful
of the wording "reasonably believes" and it should be
changed. It needs to be clear in the Bill that if someone wants
to make decisions on someone else's behalf, they would have to
go through a number of tests to ensure that the person could not
make the decision themselves.
A distinction should also be drawn between paid
and unpaid carers. It would be a safer power if paid staff had
to work to a person-centred plan and keep records so that they
were accountable for the decisions they made. I recognise this
is not practical for family members to do on a day-to-day basis
but they should have to ask for formal powers if they wanted to
take big decisions such where a person should live when they leave
I do not think we should rule out the whole
Bill on the basis that the General Authority part needs changing.
The system we have at the moment is not acceptable to people with
a learning disability and should be changed.
I don't think the draft Bill makes sufficient
provision for the resolution of conflicts between carers and people
who have difficulty making or communicating a decision.
It needs to be made clearer in the final Bill
that people should be allowed to make their own decisions. Putting
the principles at the start of the Bill would help.
But people who have difficulties making decisions
also need to be able to access support from independent advocates
when making big decisions. An independent advocate should be there
to ensure the voice of the person with a learning disability is
heard rather than as an alternative decision-maker. Wherever possible,
this advocate should be of the person's choosing. Independent
advocacy services should follow a national code of practice.
I would ask the Committee to please mention
the need for advocacy in their report as people with a learning
disability really do need it on the face of the Bill as a safeguard
against having decisions made for them by someone else.
3. COURT OF
The Court of Protection needs to be accessible
for people with a learning disability to challenge decisions made
on their behalf. One way of making it more accessible would be
to have a panel sitting at a regional levelperhaps made
up of a mix of professions such as a lawyer, a parent and a social
workerwhich conducts its proceedings in a way that a person
with a learning disability can understand so that going to Court
is not so scary. The people from the Court will need to be trained
properly on how to deal with people with a learning disability.
People with a learning disability have not been
well informed about the draft Bill and that is one of the reasons
why they are so angry about it. It was really good to have an
accessible version of the draft Bill but it wasn't as accessible
as it should have been and didn't tell the whole story. We will
need a proper accessible version of the final Bill and accessible
documents, like the code of practice, when implementing the Bill.
I think the Government should ask people with a learning disability
to help write these. A steering group could be set up to advise
The Government will also need to work with organisations
like Mencap and others to consult and inform their members.
Thank you again for asking me to give evidence
and I hope I have been able to provide some insight into how people
with a learning disability feel about the draft Bill and what
we would like changed. If I can be of any further assistance or
you would like me to clarify any of the issues I've talked about,
please do not hesitate to contact me.