Down Syndrome Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:46 pm on 4th February 2022.

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Photo of Lia Nici Lia Nici Conservative, Great Grimsby 1:46 pm, 4th February 2022

I thank my hon. Friend for his support and for his passion about education. We have many conversations about it, although I was worried at one point that he was going to say that I was teaching in further education before he was born, which, worryingly, might actually be true. We will brush over that.

I urge employers to think about taking on people who have Down syndrome. As the Bill is so specifically about Down syndrome, it will allow the message to be communicated much more widely to employers.

There is another reason I feel that this is a landmark Bill. Let me use a metaphor. One of my first jobs when I was 18 was as a barmaid in a country pub not far from Grimsby called the King’s Head, in a little village called Keelby. In the 1980s, pubs were part of their communities. They still are now, although perhaps not as much, sadly. One resident of the village—I will not use his proper name, as I have not asked his family’s permission, but we will call him Bob—lived across the road from the pub. He came into the pub every night and was welcomed by everybody. He had his own special tankard hanging up. When Bob came in there was a particular orange juice that he liked to drink at a particular strength—I had to learn how he liked his drink—and he had a pint with everybody. How England is embracing people with Down syndrome with the Bill is very much like how Bob was embraced in the pub. He was greeted as an equal, and joined in conversations and played pub games. It was very much part of his life. He was working at the time. Is it not lovely to think about how the country and, we hope, the wider United Kingdom can embrace the Bill?

As my right hon. Friend the Member for North Somerset says, it is important to have a named person in the ICS and care sectors.