As Rugby’s Member of Parliament, I am often involved in a wide array of issues that before being elected I would not have ever come across. One issue which stands out particularly is that of Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency, which was drawn to my attention following meeting one of my constituents who has been affected by this condition. Alpha-1 is a rare genetic condition which can affect a person’s lungs and liver, causing shortness of breath, chronic bronchitis and in some cases jaundice.
Over the past two years, I have worked both locally and in Parliament to try and raise awareness of this condition. Recently I took advantage of the conference recess to attend the Alpha-1 Support Group’s 21st anniversary meeting, which was held here in the constituency at Brandon. This was an opportunity to learn more about the progress on research to treat this condition, and to hear from those who live daily with Alpha-1.
In order to raise an issue like Alpha-1 in Parliament, there are a number of routes which MPs can take. One of the ones I am asked to do the most is to raise it with the Prime Minister at Prime Minister’s Questions on a Wednesday – unfortunately, it is often very challenging to do this as nearly every backbench MP will put in a question for PMQs and only a handful are selected by the ballot for each session. Another option which I can pursue is to raise it with the relevant Department at Departmental Question Times, where MPs can question Government Ministers on specific issues related to their Department.
Finally, MPs can call for a debate on an issue, for example at the end of each Parliamentary day when there is a short adjournment debate on an issue raised by a backbench MP. Regular readers may remember the recent debate on Gypsy and Traveller policy, which was one such debate. This is the route that I am using to raise Alpha-1 in Parliament and I have submitted a request for an adjournment debate to held later this year.