Summer Adjournment

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:10 pm on 25th July 2019.

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Photo of Ivan Lewis Ivan Lewis Independent, Bury South 3:10 pm, 25th July 2019

It is a pleasure to follow James Cartlidge. Like Sir David Amess, I want to raise the issue of avoidable deaths as a consequence of epilepsy. This issue does not get enough focus in the House. It causes a great deal of distress, for obvious reasons, to many families.

There are 21 epilepsy deaths each week in the United Kingdom. The organisation SUDEP Action does an excellent job in not only supporting bereaved families but highlighting this issue. What we want from the Government is an inquiry into avoidable epilepsy deaths; a funded annual risk check for all people with epilepsy; local training, so that all frontline professionals have greater awareness of this issue; and a willingness that has not been present for a number of years for Ministers to meet SUDEP Action and Members of Parliament to address these issues. A remarkable woman in my constituency called Lynn McGoff lost her daughter Samantha Ahearn 10 years ago to an avoidable epilepsy death. She has raised more than £45,000 for SUDEP Action, and she is a great advocate and campaigner for this cause and many others. Her courage, and that of the many people like her who turn personal tragedy into campaigns, is an inspiration to us all.

As we speak here today, there is a real risk that the English Football League is about to give Bury football club notice that it will have to leave the league due to a series of administrative issues. I want to use this speech to ask the English Football League to sit down with me, my hon. Friend James Frith and the club to do everything we can to prevent that from happening, because it would be a devastating blow to the town of Bury.

When we come back, I hope to be in a position to confirm that we have submitted a bid to the Government for a new secondary school in Radcliffe in my constituency. It is a scandal that that community has not had a secondary school for well over 10 years, but we are making tremendous progress in submitting a bid to the Government, and I hope the Government will look upon it favourably. Likewise, for Prestwich precinct, we are making a bid to the town centre fund administered by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

I want to touch briefly on the issue of antisemitism. It is important to say that this has ruptured the relationship between my former party and large sections of the Jewish community, and the consequence is that the majority—this is not an exaggeration—of Jews in the United Kingdom fear that they would not feel welcome in this country if my former party, under its present leadership, were to win an election. I therefore ask those who are still members of that party in this House to understand the impact of that on people’s everyday lives and their duty to send different messages to the Jewish community in this country from those they have been sending in recent times. That is a very serious issue.

I also want to raise the matter of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. I had the privilege of meeting her husband Richard, as many others did, outside the embassy. The way Iran has behaved is scandalous. Whatever we say about wanting to stay part of the nuclear deal, Iran is a rogue state. It continues to fund and encourage terrorism around the middle east and then, despite this country staying in the nuclear deal, it imprisons and treats Nazanin in the most appalling manner. We should use every opportunity in this House to condemn the Iranian regime and say that we will not take our eye off the ball until she is released.

I want to raise the question of HS2. What I have discovered in recent weeks about HS2 is shocking. It seems that a significant number of former senior staff were made to sign non-disclosure clauses, as part of redundancy notices, because they had brought it to the attention of the company’s senior management that they were not providing accurate information to this House about the true costs of HS2. People were marched off premises and made redundant purely because they were whistleblowing and saying that this House and the public were being misled about the cost. I urge the Government and the Department for Transport to come totally clean and to be transparent about this issue, because if they do not come clean, we will drag out of them this information about what I believe is a public scandal.

May I welcome the new Prime Minister’s commitment to come forward with a fundamentally new plan for social care? This is one of the great public policy challenges of our time. Elderly people and their families, as well as disabled people and people with mental health problems, are being let down. I hope that the new Prime Minister is genuine in his commitment finally to bring forward, on an all-party basis, a radical plan for the reform of social care.