The Archbishop of Wales described organ transplants as 'asset stripping'. It was an odd criticism when most of those assets come from the dead who no longer has a use for them. There was a debate this morning led by ex_Assembly member Glyn Davies. The issue is not one for the UK parliament at the moment but it is a likely one for legislation in Wales.
Paul Flynn (Newport West) (Lab): This debate reinforces the view that Assembly Members never actually leave the Assembly, but continue their debates here in Westminster. This morning’s debate is not for us. The Government have 400 commitments in the coalition agreement; if they have 401 commitments then there is even less chance that they will deliver on this. There is no likelihood of change.
Glyn Davies: I reassure the hon. Member that this issue was never raised during the eight years I served as a member of the Welsh Assembly.
Paul Flynn: It is now a live issue in the Assembly. We are not the Assembly, we are a British Parliament, and I question whether this is an issue of primary concern. Of course we should talk about it, but sadly any possibility of reform is remote in this Parliament, although it is a live issue in Wales. This debate has been called in order to influence the debate in Wales and it is questionable whether it is a legitimate use of Parliamentary time.
Guto Bebb (Aberconwy) (Con): I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Montgomeryshire (Glyn Davies) on securing this debate. On whether this is an issue to be debated in Westminster or in the Welsh Assembly, is the hon. Member for Newport West (Paul Flynn) implying that no contribution to the debate can be made in a Westminster context? There is a real question mark as to whether the Assembly has the legislative competence to deal with the issue.
Paul Flynn: I served in Parliament before there was a Welsh Assembly, unlike the two hon. Gentlemen. Since it has come into being I have absolutely never, at any time, become involved with, made speeches on, or interfered in those responsibilities of education and health in Wales, which are the responsibility of the Welsh Assembly. We have to accept that and realise that there are Welsh Assembly responsibilities and other responsibilities here. I do not want to labour that point, however, because there is a more important point to be made—
Guto Bebb: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?
Paul Flynn: No, I will not. I have been asked to be brief. We must get away from what we are hearing from prattling prelates and procrastinating politicians and look at the real issue. We cannot talk about a system that is working well, as was suggested this morning, when 1,000 families were bereaved last year in the UK and 50 families were bereaved in Wales. I will not talk about one family in my constituency where a young woman died waiting for an organ transplant because it is too heartbreaking a story, but I want to say something about the reality. Despite all the fine theories and words ahead, what is happening to real people in our constituencies?
Some of us listened to the testimony of Matthew Lomas and his mother when they came to Parliament a month ago. It was a dreadful story of suffering that moved us all. Matthew and his brother were born with congenital heart defects and they both had pacemakers. Matthew was suddenly getting a great deal of pain and discomfort and was taken to the hospital, where the diagnosis was a sombre one. His heart was growing and he would eventually die. He was told that on a scale of one to 10 his chance of surviving was at 9.9, and the family prepared for Matthew’s death. They were told that a heart transplant was a possibility, so they arranged for him to go to Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth hospital, where he had a series of assessments. When the doctor told them that he would have to have a transplant, his mother said:
“Matt and I stared at each other it was so surreal. Had we both heard the same thing? We didn’t talk. Matt may have wept, I can’t be sure. I felt numb and could only think about my son who I had just been told was dying.
The sister came back in. ‘Had you been expecting to hear that?’ she asked gently. ‘No!’ we said together. It was the first thing we had said since hearing the awful news. ‘I thought Matt would need a new pacemaker.’ I said.”
She told the story—which some hon. Members will have heard—of the dreadful things that happened from then on. There were false alarms; a call from Birmingham came at 2 o’clock in the morning. They prepared themselves and started to drive up the motorway, only to be told when they were halfway there that the heart was not suitable. There were many other false alarms along the way. Eventually the transplant did occur—I find it difficult to read the whole story so I will cut it short. The family went through agony as the young man approached death. He was fitted with a device that would keep him alive for 28 days, but death was a certainty at the end. By good fortune—not from the wisdom of politicians or prelates—he survived. He is at home now and has a life expectancy of five years.
Another constituent of mine, a young woman the same age as Matt, died last year because there was no heart available. I believe we must say—because the overwhelming evidence is there in spite of what the hon. Member for Montgomeryshire said this morning—that the weight of the medical evidence shows the best way forward, and that is the decision that the Welsh Assembly is about to take. For goodness sake, instead of going along as we are—particularly today—serving the few rather than the many and talking about our various political differences, let us realise that this is an area in which we politicians can save lives and lift the burden of anxiety from families waiting for organs. We know that all of the evidence—the fair evidence, not the procrastinating evidence we have heard this morning—shows that there will be more organs available. For goodness sake, let us allow the Welsh Assembly a free run to get on with it and lead the country as it has in the past with other reforms. We hope that England and the rest of the United Kingdom will follow suit when the reforms produced by the Welsh Assembly are proved to be a great success.
Here today - Guardian tomorrow.
This item appeared in the Guardian today sourced from this blog.
Liam Fox/Adam Werritty farrago: the matter that provided so much autumn entertainment for those who don't have cable TV. But still, the troubling matter of the former defence secretary, his strange friend and his dodgy neocon charity has the potential to embarrass. So, understandably, within Whitehall they are being very careful about it. This much became clear last Wednesday when Craig Murray, the activist and former ambassador to Uzbekistan, emailed the Foreign Office with a freedom of information request about Messrs Fox and Werritty and meetings they had with Matthew Gould, Britain's ambassador to Israel. Murray's was a late-night operation. "I sent the email at 10.15pm, assuming they would see it the following day and that I would get a reply three weeks later," he said yesterday. In fact the reply from the FCO popped into his inbox at 11.31 the same night, informing him that the inquiries would cost too much, and therefore his query will not be answered. Not the answer he wanted. But one hour and 16 minutes? Are all requests for info to be expedited in this way?
• We do hope so. For despite a formal request for information more than 24 hours ago, there is still no word from the Department for Communities and Local Government as to whether Eric Pickles will justify his top billing at the activist training conference being run by the Tory "madrasa", the Young Britons' Foundation. Last year, when they were being characterised as extremists, he sought to distance the party from them. Maybe we should re-submit our request as an FOI via the Foreign Office. One hour 16 minutes, Eric. Take note.