On 16 June 2023, the second reading of the Powers of Attorney Bill is scheduled to take place in the House of Lords.
A lasting power of attorney (LPA) is a legal document which allows a person to grant decision-making powers to another individual in circumstances where they lose mental capacity to make decisions for themselves.
Since 2021, the Ministry of Justice and the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) have been working together to modernise the LPA system. The government contends that the existing paper-based system for making and registering LPAs has caused several problems, including complexity for users and inefficiencies for the OPG, which administers the system. In July 2021, the Ministry of Justice launched a consultation where it sought views on modernisation proposals. It published its official response to the consultation in May 2022 which provided an overview of how the government planned to amend the LPA process. This included introducing primary legislation which the government said it would bring forward when parliamentary time allowed.
The Powers of Attorney Bill is a private member’s bill first introduced in the House of Commons on 15 June 2022 by Stephen Metcalfe (Conservative MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock). Viscount Stansgate (Labour) is the bill’s sponsor in the House of Lords. The bill has government support as it would give effect to some of the measures the government said it wanted to take forward in the consultation. The bill would make various changes to the existing process for making and registering LPAs. For example, it would:
- allow regulations to set out identity verification requirements for registering an LPA
- provide for new forms of evidence of the LPA to be created and accepted
- allow an electronic form of an LPA as registered to be accepted as evidence of the LPA
- permit chartered legal executives to certify copies of an LPA
The government has said the bill would make it easier for people to create an LPA and would give them increased protection from abuse.
The bill received cross-party support during its passage through the House of Commons, including from the Labour frontbench. It passed its House of Commons stages without amendment.
The Ministry of Justice has supplied explanatory notes as prepared for the Commons stages, a delegated powers memorandum and an impact assessment for the bill. At the time of writing, explanatory notes for the Lords stages had not been published.