Social CareSpeeches

Dean Russell – 2022 Speech on the Carer’s Leave Bill

The speech made by Dean Russell, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, in the House of Commons on 21 October 2022.

I should start by letting anyone watching on Parliament TV know that this is not a glitch—I am genuinely on my feet.

It is always a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Bradford East (Imran Hussain). I thank the hon. Member for North East Fife (Wendy Chamberlain) for introducing this important legislation. I thank all hon. Members who have spoken on this important issue. We must remember that any one of us, due to circumstances in our lives or those of our loved ones, could be a carer, and perhaps one who needs to work at the same time. The Bill affects everyone across society, but especially those incredible people who care for others. With that in mind, I am pleased to confirm that the Government will support the Bill. I thank my predecessors, my hon. Friends the Members for Loughborough (Jane Hunt) and for Sutton and Cheam (Paul Scully), for their work in this incredibly important area.

Carer’s leave will enable unpaid carers who are balancing paid employment with their caring responsibilities to take some time out of work if required, which will provide increased flexibility to support them to stay in work. The Bill has support across the House, which I was pleased to see reflected in our debate.

The speeches of the hon. Member for North East Fife and my hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich West (Shaun Bailey) were incredible, especially the statistics that my hon. Friend cited. The hon. Member for Motherwell and Wishaw (Marion Fellows) gave incredibly powerful and moving testimony about her own experience. My hon. Friend the Member for Harrow East (Bob Blackman) shared his personal experience with his parents; my heart truly went out to him.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet (Theresa Villiers) is an incredibly experienced politician and a staunch and hard-working representative for her constituents. She asked whether we should legislate to go further, and she recognised the importance of the Bill and of where we are today. My hon. Friend the Member for Loughborough cited powerful statistics in support of the Bill and spoke about her work on the Bill as a Minister.

The Bill will provide invaluable support to unpaid carers, who carry out such an important and often difficult role in looking after their loved ones. It has been wonderful to see support for it across the House and across the political spectrum today. The Government truly look forward, as I do, to continuing to work closely with the hon. Member for North East Fife to support its passage.

Wendy Chamberlain

With the leave of the House, I will be brief, because I know that time is running short. I thank the hon. Member for Castle Point (Rebecca Harris), who does so much to make Fridays work. Her advice and guidance to me have been invaluable.

My researcher Kathryn Sturgeon has done fantastic work with Carers UK. Carers UK, you are absolute legends in what you do for carers and for unpaid carers—thanks for your support with the Bill. I have worked closely with Fife Carers and with Fife Young Carers; it has been great to speak to so many constituents. I thank all hon. Members for their speeches and interventions: it is important that people out there know how much this House appreciates carers and their work.

The hon. Member for Motherwell and Wishaw (Marion Fellows) said that not all heroes wear capes. So many carers feel quite the opposite because of the burden that they face in their caring responsibilities. I am delighted to hear that the Government will support my Bill. I hope that we can send a message to carers that we do think of them as heroes, and we do appreciate what they do.