Local MP helps pass Autism Bill

February 27, 2009 6:19 PM

Mark spoke out in support of the Bill in the House of Commons

This morning in the House of Commons, Mark Hunter MP for the Cheadle Constituency spoke out and voted in support of the new Private Members Bill on Autism.

The Bill would improve services for people with Autism and their carers. It includes measures to make councils gather data on the number of people with autism to better plan and co-ordinate services and help ensure consistency of approach for children and adults. It also places a duty on local authorities and NHS bodies to fulfil their responsibilities towards people with autism.

The Autism Bill, which has attracted cross party support, was introduced in Parliament as a Private Member's Bill by Conservative MP Cheryl Gillan after she came top of the ballot of MPs hoping to introduce bills into Parliament this year. Mr Hunter pledged last October that if he had won the ballot he would sponsor the Bill, after being contacted by constituents with autistic children who were concerned about a lack of adequate services. Mr Hunter also visited Aspirations a local centre (based in Stretford) for young people with autism spectrum disorder to see how local services can help to support them and their families.

Today saw the Bill's second reading debate in Parliament - it has three more stages to pass before it becomes law. During the debate the Government pledged to introduce similar measures to improve autism services though they decided they would not support the Bill being passed in its current form. Despite Government opposition the Bill was passed by a significant majority.

Speaking after the vote Mark Hunter MP said; "This vote was a landmark victory for all those who have long campaigned for autism services to be improved.

"At the moment Autism services are a postcode lottery leaving some people with autism isolated and neglected. This is not a political issue but one that affects people from across every constituency. Too often people with autism are overlooked and adequate services not provided because data on the number of people is not clear or services between councils and PCTs aren't co-ordinated. This Bill is a real chance to make sure that the lives of people with autism and their families are transformed.

"I'm very glad that the Government is putting forward proposals to improve autism services and I welcome the commitment they have made to take forward the provisions in this bill. As the Minister made clear during the debate that he agreed with the major objectives of the Bill, it's a mystery as to why the Government themselves were not prepared from the outset to support it."

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