Justin Tomlinson MP

Justin Tomlinson MP

MP For North Swindon

Swindon Advertiser Column - Childhood Cancer Debate Brought Unity To Westminster

It has been a busy week in Parliament. I was humbled to take part in the childhood cancer debate organised by Caroline Dinenage MP.

The debate was inspired by 10 year-old Charlotte Fairall, who tragically passed away after battling a rare and aggressive cancer. Sophie’s family began Sophie's Legacy, which worked with Caroline Dinenage MP to bring about the debate and ask the Government to look at how we prevent, diagnose, treat and care for children's cancer. This was an incredibly moving and important debate, which discussed a number of vital issues – such as increasing research into childhood cancer and potential treatments, as well as support for children diagnosed with cancer, and their families. Every parent’s very worst nightmare is that their child falls seriously ill, and it is a horrific thing to experience.

This debate was one of those rare debates with genuine cross-party support – there are often understandable criticisms of Parliament, but this really was Parliament at its best. It was terrible to hear the stories and I have been contacted by several local families with their experiences.

Understanding the experience of children and young people with cancer is crucial for being able to improve their cancer treatment and care. That is why I was pleased to see that the first Under-16 Cancer Patient Experience Survey was published by NHS England in October 2021, following the campaigning of charities like Young Lives vs Cancer and Teenage Cancer Trust.

My contribution to the debate focused on calling for improved peer to peer support, linking up families with those who are also going through the same thing – so they can help each other through such incredibly difficult circumstances.

This week also saw the publication of the Government’s response to the Independent Fan Led Review of Football Governance – which endorsed all 10 of the key recommendations.

The Premier League is the most successful in the world, the Championship is the 4th and our national team can compete with anyone on their day. However, many clubs throughout the football pyramid face challenges – either financial, or with frankly terrible owners, as Swindon Town have been over the years! Too often fans have felt powerless.

The Government’s plans will establish an independent regulator focused on financial sustainability, a strengthened approach to owners and directors test and will seek to give fans a greater say in the running and protection of their clubs.

The outcome of the Fan Led Review will be a seismic change for our national game and has been welcomed by fans up and down the country. I want to pay tribute to Rob Angus, the STFC Supporter’s Trust and the many local individual fans who took the time to feed in their views and have their say, it has clearly made a difference.

The proposed changes will be debated further as legislation is brought forward. That said there is a consensus for change and as I raised in Parliament the Premier League, EFL and FA should crack on, not wait for us politicians to force changes through legislation.

Finally, I was delighted to see that Russia has recognised my support for Ukraine by placing me on their list of sanctioned British politicians, alongside approximately 280 other MPs. Slava Ukraini!

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