It is a great privilege to take part in this debate. Antoinette Sandbach and others have set an almost unsurpassable standard in their comprehensive, thoughtful and moving accounts of the issue before us tonight. When I thought about what I was going to say today, I found myself strangely circumspect, reticent and shy about what I might or might not say, possibly because I am old fashioned—probably more so than I should be. At the back of one’s mind there is always the thought, “Is it in good taste? Should I go there? Should I not?” But in a flash it came to me: I have only one sibling, my younger brother, who is nine and a half years younger than me, and all my mother ever said about this—she is dead now—was that she had a number of miscarriages between me and my brother. It is very much to my detriment, to my dishonour, that I never broached this subject with my mother and said, “What happened?” I very much regret that. My parents were immensely British, and they got on with it and suffered in silence, but I wonder how many miscarriages she had and what that agony was like. It is too late now, and “too late” are some of the saddest words in English.
The point has been made about parents, and I am a parent, all three of whose children were born relatively easily and successfully. As one or two Members of this place know, I am also a grandparent and a brother-in-law, and for that reason am not untouched by the type of tragedy that has been described today. One thinks, “It is not going to affect me”, but it comes damned close. So I have the experience. The second thing I found to be almost like a searing wound to me personally: witnessing the extraordinary grief of what happened. This was a searing, dreadful, ghastly grief. Will Quince has said that we must reach out, give people a hug and ask how we can help, but that grief has to be seen to be believed and it is terrible.