Health Grant update

Cabinet reshuffle

As you know David Cameron re-shuffled his cabinet at the beginning of September 2012, and we now have a new Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt, and a new Minister of State for Care Services Norman Lamb. They have replaced Andrew Lansley (Secretary) and Paul Burstow (Minister). It is still possible that Norman Lamb may not be the appointed minister for us, yet. He was the minister appointed to answer at the Westminster Hall Debate as the Minister of State for Care Services, however, sometimes politics can do odd things and so we are still waiting confirmation on his position. But we cannot stop just because Westminster does, and so we continue to campaign, meeting MPs and writing to Norman Lamb. Whoever does become the confirmed minister dealing with our Health Grant will receive the rapidly growing file regardless of whose name the letters are addressed to.

Where are we on the campaign?

We have seen 73 MPs to date, across all parties. Any who were unsure about the Health Grant and whether thalidomiders should be left to the benefits system alone quickly changed their tune. Others were more motivated to then reach out to their constituent, and others had already seen their constituent and wanted to ask us, the campaign team, what else they could do to support us.
Nearly all the MPs we have seen have signed our EDM 46 but not all. There is a campaign among many MPs not to sign any EDMs – sometimes we change their mind, we give them great counter arguments, but sometimes they prefer to show their support in different ways. If your MP has not signed EDM 46 he / she has more likely written to the Minister, and / or approached the Minister, and / or joined the APPG, and / or spoken with the Secretary, and / or put in for the Westminster Hall Debate, and / or tabled written questions, and / or oral questions, and basically helped keep the subject of thalidomide firmly in the mind of the Department of Health.
Parliament started back from its summer recess on the 3rd September 2012.
Parliament recessed (again) on Tuesday 18th September 2012.
It comes back for business on the 15th October 2012.
However, MPs are in their constituencies during this time, although in this break from Westminster they will be attending their Annual Conferences. Their conference dates are:

    • Labour- 30th September 2012 – 4th October 2012 in Manchester

 

    • Conservative- 7th October 2012 -10th October 2012 in Birmingham

 

  • Lib Dems- 22nd September 2012 – 26th September 2012 in Brighton

 

Keep talking

When they are not at their conferences we encourage you to make appointments and visit them if you haven’t yet done so. Your personal visits are what drove so many MPs to attend the Westminster Hall Debate on 5th September 2012. This is not just “encouragement talk”. Just minutes before the Debate whilst standing in Westminster Hall we were assured by a passing MP that a debate at 11am on a Wednesday morning just before Prime Minister’s Question Time was THE WORST time to have a debate, and we would be lucky to have 2 MPs, if any, attend. This was a little disconcerting, for half a second (no time for negative thoughts and doubts when campaigning). And, 27 MPs came, 15 spoke and many mentioned their constituent(s). This is the power we have when we work together.
The minister has promised us an answer in the autumn. That could be anytime up until December… Whilst we wait we continue to campaign; brief MPs, encourage MPs to submit written and oral questions, sign EDM 46, approach the minister and the secretary, and encourage YOU to visit your MP and tell your own story.
If you have any questions please email us at thalidomidecampaign@yahoo.com