Thank you, Mr Speaker, for enabling the Government’s overdue response to this consultation to be questioned by colleagues so promptly. This issue is of first-order importance to between 200,000 and perhaps 500,000 of our fellow citizens and their families. Perhaps my right hon. Friend could begin her reply with her analysis of why so many trans people choose to hide in plain sight.
I welcome and enjoy the dynamism that my right hon. Friend brings to her unprecedented, historic responsibilities in retaking control of British trade policy after nearly half a century. The command of technical, economic and legal detail required is at once intimidating and inspiring. As a great trading nation, that needs all her attention, and she has risen to the trade challenge.
My right hon. Friend’s acquisition of the equalities brief in September 2019 was hardly planned. The Prime Minister has done her and the nation no favours by continuing to overburden her after the election at such an extraordinary time for trade. The contrast between her reputation between in responsibility is horribly stark. On women and equalities, it is horribly stark set against the reputation and achievement of my right hon. Friend Penny Mordaunt. It was in her tenure that we created the expectations that we were finally going to deliver on equality for trans people in principle, based on a comprehensive consultation itself based on work under the coalition going back to 2011.
Does my right hon. Friend the Minister understand the crushing disappointment of trans people with the content of her statement on Tuesday, set against the consultation on which it was based? Does she appreciate that trans people cannot discern any strong or coherent reason for this screeching change of direction? They are aware of the fear being used against them and fears, void of evidence, to sustain them. Does she understand the anger at the prospect of their receiving their fundamental rights being snatched away?
The longer the uncertainty has been allowed to continue, the worse the fear and anger have become. Does my right hon. Friend understand that the delay in the statement helped to contribute to that? Does she see that the underlying trend of the majority of people in this country is following the path set by a change of attitude in society a generation earlier towards those with different sexualities? This time, despite the complexities of understanding around trans, younger people in particular are more starkly intolerant of the cruelty of wider society’s inhumanity towards trans people. The vast, vast majority of lesbian, gay and bisexual people will stand in solidarity with trans people.
Does my right hon. Friend appreciate that her statement does not command a majority in this House? Will she confirm that that is one of the reasons why she cannot propose any legislation? She has presented the House with an inherently unstable settlement that will have to be addressed—hopefully sooner rather than later.
Does my right hon. Friend understand that when the pre-emptive statement she made to the Women and Equalities Committee earlier this year was properly explained to me, I gave this issue my full attention and that of the all-party parliamentary group on global lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights? I engaged with people who had different views to understand the compromises necessary to deliver reassurance around trans people, but also to be able to deliver trans rights. That work was done. It was given, quietly, in a comprehensive paper to the Government in early July and, tragically, it has been ignored.