Down Syndrome Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:23 pm on 4th February 2022.

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Photo of Jo Gideon Jo Gideon Conservative, Stoke-on-Trent Central 1:23 pm, 4th February 2022

We have had some amazing contributions today. First, I obviously thank my right hon. Friend Dr Fox. This is an incredibly important Bill. At the beginning of the debate, he said that the narrowness of the Bill was important to getting it through as a private Member’s Bill, and I want to reflect on that.

I have my own private Member’s Bill, the Button Batteries (Safety) Bill, for exactly the same reason: when we talk about protecting the vulnerable, sometimes we have to be very specific. Following the tragic death of Harper-Lee Fanthorpe at the age of two after swallowing a button battery, I hope my Bill will protect more children by making parents, carers and others aware of the dangers. I was lobbied by others to broaden my Bill to include things such as magnets, because they are also things that young children ingest. The more vulnerable the children, the more likely they are not to recognise the dangers of things such as button batteries, so I have been campaigning long and hard on that important issue.

I recognise that it is important to focus on the key issue. In this case, that is the rights of people with Down syndrome, and my right hon. Friend the Member for North Somerset makes a very good point about life expectancy. I do not know whether Members saw “Call the Midwife”, where it looked at how Down syndrome was viewed back in the ’50s and ’60s and how far we have come in understanding and on life expectancy. It means we have to protect, as well as ensuring that there is much better preparation, I guess, for a longer life—and that preparation starts in school. As chair of the all-party parliamentary group on youth affairs, I have looked at the issues with education. Sadly, only one in four young people with Down syndrome finds themselves in mainstream education.