Whitsun Adjournment

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:41 pm on 23rd May 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Jim Fitzpatrick Jim Fitzpatrick Labour, Poplar and Limehouse 3:41 pm, 23rd May 2019

It is a pleasure to follow my hon. Friend Jessica Morden. She gave us a second commentary on the plight of the steel industry, and also made a powerful case for her constituents’ ability to stay, work and live in the United Kingdom. I hope she has a good weekend with the football. Stephen Kerr made an excellent speech, and I was pleased to hear about the joint article from him and other colleagues in Scotland on Sunday. He has saved me having to look it up in Scotland on Sunday, because I have heard it now! He made a powerful argument, and I was pleased to hear it.

I want to take this opportunity to raise a number of issues, but I will do so briefly. First, I want to talk about the British sign language GCSE. Many colleagues have been campaigning alongside the deaf community for that qualification, but I have to say that the Government have been resisting it for a number of years. They recently signposted some progress, but there are now suggestions of some element of delay. I hope that that is not the case, because the lack of such a qualification discriminates against deaf children, for whom British sign language is their first language. Their colleagues at school can learn Russian, Chinese, Spanish, Italian and French, but they cannot learn British sign language. This deprives them of an opportunity to further their education, and it prevents the UK from getting many more qualified signers, of which we have a shortage. I would be grateful if the acting Leader of the House, Mark Spencer, could comment on this. I have to say that he made an impressive debut at this morning’s business questions. He said he was re-finding his voice, and I am glad that he has done so. It was a very good performance, and I wish him every success in his position. I would be grateful if he could pass on my concerns about the BSL GCSE to the Department for Education.