Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons

Part of Orders of the Day — Supply – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 21st February 1972.

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Photo of Mr Charles Simeons Mr Charles Simeons , Luton 12:00 am, 21st February 1972

This debate began in a mildly controversial way, and no doubt it will end true to form. In between we have got down to the facts of life. Hon. Members on both sides have been exchanging information, which is as it should be. I support the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell). It is either that I reflect him or he reflects me, as is borne out in Early Day Motion No. 4 in my name, supported by the hon. Member for Halifax (Dr. Summerskill), my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dame Joan Vickers) and the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ashley), among others. One cannot say that this is a party Motion; it is an all-party Motion.

If there are those who wish to become kidney donors—and there are—let the fact be made known much more easily. Until we permit it to be made known, we are putting a bar in the way of human happiness. We are stopping people being given a chance of becoming independent. We are saying that they should remain tethered to a kidney machine.

Whatever we may say of South Africa, at least it has the right idea in this respect. It does not produce more kidney machines; it tries to eliminate them by enabling people to be given transplants, so that they can continue to lead useful and active lives. I went to Hammersmith Hospital and saw a whole series of these processes, including a transplant, which I found all the worse for being in glorious Kodacolour. It was remarkable to see a girl sitting in bed waiting for a transplant, to see the transplant carried out and then to find her sitting behind me, hale and hearty. I asked her how she was getting on and she said, "They think that we are sick because we have only one kidney, but not a bit of it. I am working as a hairdresser and I do my job every day." She had been made independent; we had stopped tethering her. That is what the hon. Member for West Lothian and those who support the Motion to which I have referred have been endeavouring to achieve.