Jerome Mayhew – 2022 Speech on the Power of Attorney Bill

The speech made by Jerome Mayhew, the Conservative MP for Broadland, in the House of Commons on 9 December 2022.

I aim to be as brief as my hon. Friend the Member for Scunthorpe (Holly Mumby-Croft). I want to put on record my support for this Bill. Often in Friday sittings we talk about photogenic furry animals, but this is very different. This is an important Bill that will affect us all. To take the example of just one disease, it is estimated by Alzheimer’s Research UK that there are 944,000 people in this country suffering from dementia. The estimate is that one in three children born this year will develop and suffer from dementia in the future. This is an issue that affects us all now or will do in the future.

I want to highlight the importance of lasting powers of attorney and point out that there are not one but two different types. There are the ones that affect property and affairs and there are, crucially, the ones that affect welfare and health. From personal experience as an attorney in this area, I found the current system surprisingly complex, and that was as a qualified barrister. To be using only paper is surprising in this day and age. The complexity of sequential signatures was also surprising, and the identity checks relying on witnesses are frankly inadequate in modern times. I welcome the intention of the Bill, which is to make it easier to create LPAs, using digital facilities where appropriate. I recognise that about 25% of those over 65 do not have easy access to the internet, although on many occasions it will be younger family members whom they will be appointing as attorneys, and in those circumstances many of that 25% will be given assistance to use digital access as well. However, it is important that a paper alternative continues to be provided, and I am glad that is recognised in the Bill.

My final point is that it is great that the Bill contains increased protections from abuse, particularly in paragraph 7(2) of schedule 1, which makes reference to the process for objecting to registration for third parties. That is a useful addition, and I thoroughly welcome this Bill.