AN AUTISM campaigner has spoken of her anger after just 12 MPs turned up to a House of Commons debate on the provision of education for autistic children.
Anna Kennedy, originally from Middlesbrough and who was awarded an OBE for her work campaigning for autistic children, said she was especially disappointed that not a single North-East MP attended.
Mrs Kennedy, who has two adult autistic sons and is a patron of Stockton’s Daisy Chain charity for families with autism, said parents had hoped the Commons debate would help shift Government policy, especially as a new education secretary, Nicky Morgan, had been appointed.
Her charity and others, including Kids With Autism Deserve Education (KWADE), hope the Government will commit to more training for school staff to help autistic children.
KWADE had persuaded North-West MP Gordon Birtwistle, Liberal Democrat, to force a debate in the Commons last week.
She said: “I have strong connections at home with the Daisy Chain and Teesside University and I was really sad no-one at all from the North-East showed up. I have parents on to me who are fed up with the whole system and when I turned on the television on saw that hardly any had shown up for such an important subject, I was angry.
“The fact that so few turned up has been reported on by a parents’ website and it has been ‘shared’ online by nearly 18,000 people which gives a clue about who strongly many parents feel about it.”
Middlesbrough's Labour MP, Andy McDonald said: “Sadly it is simply not possible for MPs to attend every select committee and every debate.
“I regularly meet with charities and organisations, both in Westminster and Middlesbrough, covering a whole range of issues, many focusing on children’s disabilities and I am always keen to meet with charities working to improve the lives of adults and children, particularly in my constituency..”
Alex Cunningham, Stockton North, Labour, said: “I was in Westminster on Thursday and was in the House for questions and the report of the Education Committee on provision for care leavers and returned North late evening.
"As a member of the Education Committee I take an interest in all education provision including for children with autism but sadly can't attend all the debates constituents would like.”
Anna Kennedy now lives in London, where she set up a school for autistic children.