British Sign Language Bill Debate

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Baroness Scott of Bybrook

Main Page: Baroness Scott of Bybrook (Conservative - Life peer)
Baroness Sherlock Portrait Baroness Sherlock (Lab)
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My Lords, I too pay tribute to all those involved with the Bill, especially my honourable friend Rosie Cooper, who not only steered this Bill through another place but built such wonderful cross-party support to bring us to where we are today. The noble Lord, Lord Holmes, did a fine job carrying it through this House, so I thank and commend him too.

It is such a privilege to know that finally, the words we say here are being interpreted for BSL users at home, so I thank and congratulate all those BSL users who have campaigned to get to this point today. I encourage them to keep up the pressure.

I was sorry to miss the earlier stages of this Bill—also due to Covid—but I was very grateful to my noble friend Lady Merron, who did such a great job at the Dispatch Box that I was not missed in the slightest. Indeed, there were no calls for me to return. I am also grateful to Milton Brown from our Opposition Whips’ Office, who worked very hard on this Bill and the other DWP Bill that concluded today.

I was very moved by the stories told during the passage of this Bill of gifted BSL users being denied opportunities, and, as the noble Lord, Lord Holmes, said, of children having to interpret for their parents in situations they should never have been exposed to, simply because they could not get the interpreters they should have had a right to.

I hope that as the Bill goes through, people watching at home and in the Gallery are confident that it is one more step in making our country a better place for BSL users and their families. We are very pleased to support this Bill.

Baroness Scott of Bybrook Portrait Baroness Scott of Bybrook (Con)
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My Lords, it is indeed an historic day for our deaf community. I thank all noble Lords who have participated in the passage of this Bill through our Lordships’ House, but I also want to say a particular thank you to my noble friend Stedman-Scott, who at Second Reading set out a range of support that the Government will provide to ensure that the commitments in the Bill are taken forward.

I particularly congratulate my noble friend Lord Holmes on leading on this Bill. His plea for haste and a smooth passage was sincere in its purpose: to recognise British Sign Language in statute without delay. He has brought together noble Lords from across the House in united support on this important issue. I know he has consulted closely with noble Lords who have had a long-standing passion to promote British Sign Language and support deaf signers. I am so pleased that he, and all noble Lords who have spoken in support of this Bill, have succeeded.

By passing this Bill, we will start to remove some of the barriers to deaf BSL signers’ increased participation in work, education, culture and wider society. By increasing their participation, the richer and more inclusive all our lives will be. I extend my congratulations to the Member for West Lancashire in the other place, who introduced this Bill, and to all those involved in the BSL Act Now campaign, who have campaigned tirelessly for this important piece of legislation. Many of them have joined us today to witness what I sincerely hope will be an historic moment for deaf communities and every citizen in England, Scotland and Wales. The Government are committed to supporting all people with a disability, including deaf people, to lead fulfilled and independent lives. Supporting this Bill is part of that effort, and I am delighted that we all have played our part today.

Lord McFall of Alcluith Portrait The Lord Speaker (Lord McFall of Alcluith)
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As Lord Speaker, I welcome the BSL organisation and its members here today. I congratulate them and fellow parliamentarians who have steered this historic Bill to its successful conclusion—[Applause.] I will tolerate that disturbance.