18th February 2022

Early afternoon recently, I flipped to the Parliament channel, and I stumbled on the end of the Third Reading of the Downs Syndrome Bill in the Commons. Health and Social Care Minister Gill Keegan, MP for Chichester – herself with a nephew with Downs Syndrome – was speaking in glowing terms of the contribution of her Opposition counterpart (sitting opposite), to the Bill, and referred to there being several people with Downs Syndrome in the Public Gallery. She then ‘gave way’ to Dr Liam Fox, former cabinet minister, and MP for North Somerset, who said, ‘Can I remind colleagues of the point made by my friend, the Honourable Member for North Devon. This is not a Bill about a medical condition, Downs Syndrome, but about people with Downs Syndrome, and their right to dignity and individuality, and to make the choices for their own lives that we all take for granted’. With a beaming smile, he continued, ‘This has been a real example of what we can achieve together…’

‘And finally… can I just say this, none of us are passengers in our 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 in the uniquely privileged position of being able to make the laws in our country. The real heroes in this debate are not those who make laws, but all those who have fought and struggled to overcome the challenges they have faced without our help (turning to look up at the public gallery) for far too long.’

It did my heart good!

David Bell