Giving every baby the best possible start in life is so important, and can have a truly transformative impact on a person's lifelong physical and mental health and emotional wellbeing.
This is an area I have been focused on for so many years; first as the patron of a national charity looking at early years’ family support and improving parent-infant interactions, and then as an MP through my work with colleagues across the House on the first 1001 critical days.
Most recently, in my former role as Leader of the Commons, the Prime Minister asked me to chair a cross-departmental inter-ministerial group looking specifically at how we can improve support for parents and babies in their earliest years. I was very glad that we were able to give our recommendations a few weeks ago to the Government for consideration. Since I stepped down as Commons Leader, I have asked the various departments involved to report back on their progress in considering and implementing our recommendations, and you can see these and the responses on the Hansard parliamentary record:
Earlier today, in Prime Minister’s Questions, I asked the Prime Minister if she could update the House on what progress the Government has made on implementing the recommendations of the Inter-Ministerial Group on early years family support; and what further steps the Government plans to take to support families in the first 1001 days of life.
I was pleased that the Prime Minister confirmed that this was a priority for the Government, and was grateful to her for her kind words to me about the work we had done on the Inter-Ministerial Group.
However, I will still be pushing for the Government to set out a specific timeline for reporting back on the recommendations we had made through the IMG, as it is really important that we don’t lose momentum on this hugely important issue, especially as it has such widespread cross-party support.
Therefore I was delighted to appear before the Backbench Business Committee yesterday with my colleagues Lucy Powell and Norman Lamb to ask for time for a debate on the Inter-Ministerial Group’s recommendations and the Government’s progress in implementing them.
I look forward to hearing from the Chairman, Ian Mearns, on whether or not we have been successful in our application, and hope to raise this in the House very soon.