Down Syndrome Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:54 pm on 4th February 2022.

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Photo of Gagan Mohindra Gagan Mohindra Conservative, South West Hertfordshire 12:54 pm, 4th February 2022

My hon. Friend speaks from a position of significant knowledge and is absolutely right: the culture change both in the community and in the public bodies involved in this sector has moved on in leaps and bounds within the space of a generation, and rightly so. The message now is, “Be great at what you’re doing.” That does not necessarily mean being an excellent employee. It could mean being brilliant in a charity, brilliant at community work, or brilliant in a sport. There are so many different aspects. Success should be what a person thinks it is internally, and not what society thinks.

When I was growing up, I was very much steered towards certain careers. Admittedly, politics was not actually one of them, so in some eyes I may have failed in my life. I assure Members that I really enjoy being in this place; having spoken to colleagues across the House, I know that we all feel truly honoured to be here. I look forward to the day when, whatever disability our colleagues may have, no one bats an eyelid. There is nothing stopping that from happening. I look at some of our colleagues in this place. For example, my right hon. Friend Robert Halfon, who is a very good friend, has not been held back by his disability.

Our role as parliamentarians is to say loudly and clearly that people’s perceived disability is not really a disability. We face so many challenges in life. Hopefully, when statesmen or community leaders say enough times, “Actually, you have very few barriers,” people will begin to believe it. I look forward to providing support in whatever small way I can.

I will wrap up now, because I know others wish to contribute to debate on this Bill. In conclusion, this Bill not only helps people with Down syndrome, but, as my right hon. Friend the Member for North Somerset has already said, sets out a framework for how we can provide services in the future for those with a range of disabilities and special needs. This is the first in what I hope will be a series of legislative measures that we can all get behind.