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People with Down Syndrome

Volume 711: debated on Wednesday 30 March 2022

2. What steps the Government are taking to help ensure equality and freedom from discrimination for people with Down Syndrome. (906378)

The Government are proud to support the Down Syndrome Bill, which was introduced by my right hon. Friend the Member for North Somerset (Dr Fox). The Bill aims to tackle inequalities and ensure that services and support meet the unique needs of people with Down syndrome.

I welcome the passage of the Down Syndrome Bill through Parliament. Will my hon. Friend commit herself to consulting people living with Down syndrome and other disabilities during the development of the guidance to ensure that their voices are heard?

Absolutely. That is essential. People with Down syndrome and other disabilities, as well as their advocates, will be involved in each phase of the development of the guidance. There will be a national call for evidence, and a formal consultation on the draft guidance on will be available to anyone who wants to share their views. We will provide details of the call for evidence shortly.

I thank the Minister for her response, and I thank the hon. Member for Gedling (Tom Randall) for posing the question. What steps is the Minister taking, in co-ordination with her counterpart in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, to promote the appearance on television of our talented Down syndrome actors in order to ensure that programmes such as “Call the Midwife”—one of my favourites—are not one-offs, and that it becomes a normal part of life for children to see someone like themselves on TV and know that they too can fulfil their dreams with hard work and determination?

The passage of the Down Syndrome Bill has given a platform to many people with the condition. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman greatly enjoyed meeting actors, models and many other people with Down syndrome who showed how much they can achieve during the recent parliamentary events, and we look forward to continuing to showcase that.

I, too, want to associate myself with the comments about the hon. Member for Bridgend (Dr Wallis).

A constituent recently contacted me about her struggle with the cost of living crisis. She is the sole carer of a young daughter and, after 25 years of misdiagnosis, she has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She is already struggling to make ends meet and now her energy bills are set to triple. Last week’s spring statement included nothing about mental health and barely mentioned disabilities, whereas Labour has a plan to ease the cost of living and provide mental health services for 1 million more people each year. Where is the Government’s plan to help the millions of people like my constituent?

This issue would normally be covered by questions to a different Department, but, as the mental health Minister, I can tell the hon. Lady that we do have a plan. We are making a great deal of investment in mental health and making further investment in the catch-up programme. We also have a mental health strategy on which we have been working this year, and we will ensure that we address the issue of people with bipolar disorder in that strategy.