Down Syndrome Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:08 pm on 4th February 2022.

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Photo of Liam Fox Liam Fox Conservative, North Somerset 2:08 pm, 4th February 2022

With the leave of the House, may I say what an absolute joy it has been to find this bolthole of consensus in the psychodrama that seems to be British contemporary politics? I thank colleagues for their very kind words today; to get to this level of flattery in the House of Commons, one normally needs to be dead. [Laughter.]

I remind colleagues of the point made by my hon. Friend Selaine Saxby that this Bill is not about a medical condition, Down syndrome, but about people with Down syndrome, who have a right to dignity and individuality and to make the choices for their own lives that we all take for granted.

I want to thank the many people who have made today possible. I thank the National Down Syndrome Policy Group, and all the other voices in the Down syndrome community, including the carers and families whose input has been invaluable. I thank the officials at the Department of Health and Social Care, who have done outstanding work behind the scenes to bring us to the point that we have reached today. I especially thank the Minister. We have been so lucky to have a Minister in the shape of my hon. Friend Gillian Keegan. Not only is she an outstanding Minister in her own right, but her family background and understanding of the issue have been crucial in helping to provide the necessary momentum within Government. Indeed, I thank the Government as a whole, and in particular the Secretaries of State who signed off the two very important amendments. I am sure that they entirely understood the precedents they were setting, and it was therefore—as they would say in “Yes, Minister”—all the braver of them to do so.

I thank my own staff in the House of Commons, and I thank my constituency assistant Annabel Tall, who began much of this process when she brought her son Freddie to see me at my constituency surgery, shedding light—many colleagues will have had this experience—on the difficulties that parents can have in fighting fire on so many fronts on behalf of those whom they love. I hope that means that in some sense we have gone full circle today.

I thank all colleagues for their support, for their contributions, for the encouragement that they have given, and for their advocacy of this whole process in the House of Commons, in the constituency and in the media. It has been a real example of what we can achieve together—and that includes the all-party parliamentary group on Down syndrome, which provided so much support.

None of us are passengers in our own lives or in the society in which we live, and change is always within our grasp if we choose to seize it, especially those of us who are in the uniquely privileged position of being able to make the laws in our own country. I thank all those who have chosen that path today. The real heroes of this debate, however, are not those in the Chamber or those who make the laws pertaining to Down syndrome, but all those who have fought, struggled, and overcome the challenges that they have faced without our help for far too long.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.