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On 16 June 2021, Dr Liam Fox presented the Down Syndrome Bill 2021-22. It is a Private Member’s Bill which has attracted Government support.

The debate on second reading is scheduled for 26 November 2021.

What will the Bill do?

When introducing the Bill Dr Fox described its purpose:

I am thrilled to bring forward a Bill to deal with the issues faced by those with Down syndrome. The full title is ‘A Bill to make provision about meeting the needs of persons with Down syndrome; to place a duty on local authorities to assess the likely social care needs of persons with Down syndrome and plan provision accordingly; and for connected purposes’.

My aim is to deal with three main areas. The first is to de-stigmatise Down syndrome and to re-educate both the public and professionals about the advances, including in life expectancy, that have occurred in recent decades. The second is to ensure that current provision of services is improved, whether provided by health, education or local services, by ensuring that providers give due consideration to those with Down syndrome when designing service provision. The third is to look ahead and deal with future issues, such as long-term care, in an era where, for the first time, many of those with Down syndrome will outlive their parents. By giving due thought to the issues today we can prevent avoidable human tragedies in the future.

The Bill extends to England and Wales but will only apply in England.

Terminology

In the UK, the Down’s Syndrome Association says “it is generally accepted that both Down’s syndrome and Down syndrome can be used interchangeably.” The NHS website refers to Down’s syndrome – this is the term used in this paper.

Private Members’ Bills

At the start of each parliamentary year, all backbench MPs are invited to enter a ballot. The few MPs who are lucky in the draw can introduce a Bill of their choosing. Dr Fox drew fourth position in the ballot held on 20 May 2021.


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