Met a contingent from Haringey here to lobby MPs about the Private Members’ Bill on Friday 27th on autism. Have had loads of emails and letters as well asking me to be at the debate. So have cancelled everything to attend.
Just a word on process re Private Members’ Bills (PMBs) – they are always on a Friday when MPs have gone back to their constituencies to work there. Most MPs, for example, do surgery on Fridays (as do I). But these Bills need 100 MPs to pass on to next stage and so almost never get that kind of attendance. Just occasionally there will be a Bill whose intent is so compelling that MPs will stay. It may seem strange to those outside of Parliament who may very well be asking – what is the point of winning the ballot and getting a Bill if it has virtually zero chance of 100 MPs being there to vote for it (let alone the Government attending to defeat it)?
Well – it’s just another bit of Westminster lunacy really. I think PMBs should be in normal time and not on Fridays – after all all MPs are elected to raise issues in Parliament and democracy would be better served if more Private Bills had more backing.
But we are where we are. I am very glad that this important issue is to be debated. The people who lobbied me raised a number of issues but the one that really (in my view and theirs) needs attention is what do you do with your autistic child in terms of planning for their future. There is no provision locally or nationally when they finish at school and parents need and deserve a transition planning service – and then the facilities for autistic young adults to spend their days.
This must be such a worry for parents as no-one at Haringey Council really listens or takes this on board. We have a special school for autistic children in Haringey called the Treehouse Trust which is doing fantastic work and wants to become (in fact it is already) a centre for excellence and learning and training in the field. I wonder if they could be persuaded to pursue the ‘what happens after’ path – as not knowing and not being able to get any sort of real transition and facilities is untenable. Seems the Government and Haringey Council just think it is OK for these young people to have no proper future, housing or care.
So – be very interested to hear the Government response to the debate and if I get a chance – will intervene on these specific provision points.