Last night, my colleague Chris Elmore MP led a sad but important debate on childhood cancer of the central nervous systems. He was inspired to put forward the debate by his constituent, Cian, and the debate saw the House of Commons at its best.
The debate last night was a huge contrast to the scenes you sometimes see in the House of Commons. Instead of angry argument, there was calm, collegiate – and often emotional – debate between a group of colleagues determined to try and improve the lives of young people living with cancer.
I recently established an All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Children, Teenagers and Young Adults with Cancer because I know from my own experience that young people with cancer – and their families – often have very specific needs from treatment and aftercare. Supported by CLIC Sargent and Teenage Cancer Trust, we held an inquiry into patient experience, and produced the Listen Up! report.
So I was glad to be able to raise one of the report’s recommendations during the debate: to emphasise the importance of education in helping to recognise the symptoms of cancer in its earliest stages. Although cancer in young people is rare, the signs and symptoms need to be identified early to give the best possible outcomes for treatment.
I was touched by the kind words that colleagues had about the report and the work of the APPG. The Minister responding to the debate – Steve Brine MP – contributed to the inquiry’s evidence sessions in a very helpful way. I was pleased that in his speech, he undertook to give a line-by-line departmental response to the inquiry, something he is not obliged to do.
The debate reminded me of the importance of working cross-party, of overcoming differences in order to achieve shared aims. In doing so, we live out a Labour value that is very important to me and so many in our movement – “by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone”.