Paternity Leave (Bereavement) Bill

– in the House of Commons am 12:44 pm ar 26 Ebrill 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Bill, as amended in the Public Bill Committee, considered.

Third Reading

Photo of Chris Elmore Chris Elmore Opposition Whip (Commons) 12:46, 26 Ebrill 2024

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

I take this opportunity to thank all those who have been involved in the Bill’s journey up to this point, particularly Widowed and Young, the TUC and Gingerbread. Clerks do not often receive praise in the House, but I thank Anne-Marie Griffiths, the Clerk of private Members’ Bills, who has done sterling work to support me in progressing this Bill.

From the outset, as I said on Second Reading, the Bill’s ambition has been to help as few people as possible. Nobody wants a mother to die in childbirth, leaving a partner behind. The grief is unimaginable, and a person does not have to be a parent to understand the horror for anyone who is left behind.

I remind colleagues that the main purpose of the Bill is to introduce a much-needed right to leave for bereaved partners from the first day of their employment. Such a provision will ensure that employed parents have time, support and security in cases where their partner, and the primary caregiver of their child, has died in the most tragic of circumstances.

Although the number of people who find themselves in this situation is mercifully low—in the UK, there are around 180 maternal deaths a year within 12 months of childbirth—it is crucial that parents in this position can take time away from work to care for their child, without needing to rely solely on the good will of their employer. I am pleased that the Bill will remedy this gap in the law.

As I explained on Second Reading, it was necessary to make significant amendments in Committee, so a motion for an instruction was passed to allow for the tabling of amendments that would have otherwise been out of scope. The changes will ensure that the Bill is not only well intentioned but is effective in achieving my overall ambition.

I will now summarise the new structure of the Bill. First, it was amended to reflect that paternity leave, rather than shared parental leave, will be used as the vehicle to deliver the entitlement. For a bereaved partner to qualify for shared parental leave, the deceased parent must have had a recent history of employment that met a strict set of requirements. If the deceased parent did not have such a history, such as in the case of a stay-at-home mum, there would be no shared parental leave entitlement for the surviving parent to access, which defeats my Bill’s objectives. By contrast, paternity leave is not dependent on any other entitlement. Opting for that approach means that more parents will be eligible.

1 make it clear that, although the entitlement uses the paternity leave framework, it will specifically provide for bereaved fathers and partners. It will also include provisions that will only apply to them in these particularly heartbreaking circumstances. The intention is that a bereaved father or partner will have 52 weeks of leave available during the first year of their child’s life, from the day on which the mother or primary adopter of the child has tragically died. That ensures that they can act as the primary caregiver for this crucial first year, and can focus all their attention on their newborn child.

Secondly, the Bill was amended to enable regulations to be made concerning the eligibility of adoptive and surrogacy parents for this entitlement. Once made, the regulations will allow the surviving parents of adopted children and of children born through surrogacy arrangements to be included. As a result, we will be able to offer the benefit of this entitlement to a wider range of parents than was possible when the Bill was first conceived earlier in the year.

Thirdly, the Bill removes the requirement for a continuity of service provision, so that employed parents who find themselves in the tragic situation of losing a partner at the same time as becoming a new parent can take leave when it is needed, and it will therefore be available to take on the first day of employment. Other amendments that were made will remove constraints on bereaved partners, enabling them to access the entitlement. For example, the Bill removes the requirement that a parent who has taken shared parental leave cannot then take paternity leave. That gives the Secretary of State the power to provide that a parent who has taken shared parental leave before the death of their partner can still take paternity leave in such circumstances.

The new Bill also allows provision to be made for circumstances in which the child also dies. That too expands on what the original Bill was going to achieve. It gives the regulations the flexibility in such cases to allow the employee to remain on paternity leave for a period, even though they would not be taking the leave for the required purpose of supporting the mother or caring for the child. I think that for any Member in the House losing a partner would cause an unimaginable sense of grief in which to raise a baby. As for the idea of losing a baby—I speak as a father—being there to support your wife or partner, and being able to manage that grief as best you can in the knowledge that you have a job to go back to, will at least provide a tiny piece of reassurance while you deal with the most unimaginable sense of loss, which none of us would ever want to experience. I am so pleased that the Minister was able to bring about that change in Committee.

The new Bill introduces two new powers, the first of which provides the ability to create, through regulations, enhanced redundancy protection for bereaved employees when they return from extended paternity leave. The second power enables regulations to be made to allow bereaved parents to have “keep in touch” days during their extended paternity leave, enabling employees to work for their employer for a limited number of days without their right to paternity leave being affected. While someone is looking after a child on their own, hopefully with the support of their family, having that option to slowly go back to work for a certain number of days will be an important part of, not recovering—I do not think anyone would recover from that scenario—but at least learning to cope with and manage the situation.

Finally, the Bill was amended in Committee to remove an additional and broad Henry VIII power which would have enabled it to amend any Act of Parliament previously passed. As most Members will know, I am an Opposition Whip, but I suspect that whether my party is in government or in opposition it is never a good idea to give the Opposition Whips Office control of all Government legislation, so I think most Members will be quite pleased that that power has been removed and will not appear in any future Bill. I think it will be viewed as a positive step.

I will say more about the contribution from Darren Henry when I speak at the end of the debate, but the key for me is that the Bill has come about through genuine cross-party work and consensus. I would go as far as to say that there is no politics in bereavement. On Second Reading, when the Chairman of Ways and Means was in the Chair, I said that one of the surprising aspects of politicians was that we were all human—which is not always the perception of the broader public. I say that in jest, of course, but I say it for a purpose. We all grieve, and we all feel, in exactly the same way. At the time of the ballot, the hon. Member for Broxtowe came to me and said, “Would you look at this?”, and I did. It is through his work some two years ago that I am here today, and pleased to be here, presenting what I accept is a different Bill, but a Bill that is nevertheless the starting point of bringing about changes that I think are needed. It is welcome that we are able to do this on a genuinely cross-party basis.

I want to make one final point. The Minister and I have worked together over my entire eight years in the House, and he has been nothing but constructive. His officials have been super in engaging with my small office—my team of one researcher, as lots of MPs have —in getting the Bill to this point. It has been not only an easy process to work with the Minister and his officials but an important one.

All being well, when the Bill receives Royal Assent it will help people in their darkest hour. When the unimaginable sense of joy at being a parent becomes unimaginable grief at losing the person you were expecting to do that job with—being a parent is a job of work in every sense—and having to do that on your own, this legislation will mitigate the risks and insecurity that go with that. I pay warm tribute and express my gratitude to the Minister for the way in which he has conducted himself, as he always does, with great courtesy, and for the access he has given me to his officials to ensure we can deliver this small but important change to the law.

Photo of Darren Henry Darren Henry Ceidwadwyr, Broxtowe 12:56, 26 Ebrill 2024

I could not be more delighted that the Bill has finally reached this stage today. I of course put on record my most sincere thanks to Chris Elmore. I was delighted when he was selected in the private Member’s Bill ballot and agreed to take forward this Bill. He has worked incredibly hard to get it to this point, and I am grateful for his and his team’s work toward getting this Bill to become law.

I have recalled Aaron’s story on many occasions now, and as today may be the last chance I have to do so, I will recall it again. In 2022, my constituent Aaron came to my local surgery in Stapleford with his new son Tim in his arms. Aaron had tragically lost his wife Bernadette in childbirth and found that he did not qualify for leave, as he had not been employed by his company for the required period of time. I was determined to change this, so that no one else would find themselves in the same position. Aaron’s company made good but was not compelled by law.

Aaron has been here at every stage of this Bill’s progression through the House. He is once again in the Gallery today. Aaron is testament to the power that constituents can have if they raise an injustice that they come across within our laws. Changes such as this come from individuals such as Aaron and his relentless fight to ensure that no one finds themselves in the same situation. As has often been said by the hon. Member for Ogmore and I and others, this change will not affect many people, but to those it does affect, the impact will be huge. The Bill will ensure that individuals who lose their partner during childbirth have a day one right to leave. Allowing an individual not to have to worry about their employment during what is an incredibly difficult time can have a huge impact on someone.

As the hon. Member for Ogmore mentioned, the cross-party support for the Bill shows the non-political nature of this measure. I was delighted when presenting a ten-minute rule Bill on this topic to receive overwhelming support from across the House, including from Jim Shannon, my hon. Friends the Members for Bassetlaw (Brendan Clarke-Smith) and for Gedling (Tom Randall) and many others who are not in their place today.

I put on record my thanks to those Members who have been with me, pushing for this change. My hon. Friend the Minister, who has responsibility for enterprise, markets and small businesses, met with Aaron and I two years ago regarding this issue. He has consistently offered support and advice, and I know he has worked with the hon. Member for Ogmore on getting the Bill here today. I hope that the Bill does not have to be used by many, but it will have a huge impact on those who do use it during a stage of life when support is most needed. That is something that everyone supporting the Bill should be incredibly proud of, most of all Aaron.

Photo of Sara Britcliffe Sara Britcliffe Ceidwadwyr, Hyndburn 12:59, 26 Ebrill 2024

I congratulate both Chris Elmore and my hon. Friend Darren Henry on bringing this Bill to the Chamber today and getting it through Parliament. It is a very important Bill. I have always believed that, as Members of Parliament, our duty first and foremost is to help our constituents, and it is commendable what my hon. Friend has done for his constituent Aaron.

It is a horrible situation even to have to consider. I do not have children myself, but I put myself in the position of one of my constituent’s partners. I have been campaigning for more support for women during their pregnancy because, sadly, one of my constituents committed suicide while pregnant with her daughter Elsie, and her partner, Eddie, was left on his own. That was due to hyperemesis gravidarum, or extreme pregnancy sickness. Within the NHS we are now seeing more support for women throughout their pregnancy, due to the campaign that my constituent’s family have run. What the hon. Member for Ogmore has done today will make a difference—although hopefully not to a lot of people—so congratulations to both him and my hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe.

Photo of Jack Brereton Jack Brereton Ceidwadwyr, Stoke-on-Trent South 1:01, 26 Ebrill 2024

As many colleagues know, I spoke on Second Reading of this Bill, so I am delighted to see it progress to its final stages in the Commons. I want again to commend Chris Elmore for progressing his Bill so amiably through to this stage. It is a highly emotive Bill; while the numbers who will benefit each year are thankfully relatively small, the impact on those families is huge. Reflecting that, it has been extremely positive to see the wide, cross-party support this Bill has attracted, especially of course from my hon. Friend Darren Henry, who I know has long campaigned on this issue.

As I said on Second Reading, as a father myself it is hard to imagine the impact and trauma that a family must go through on the loss of a mother during childbirth. Tragically, however, those situations do occur, so we must put in place the laws needed to protect properly the rights of those who remain, to keep the family together and to support single parents in coping with raising a child or children alone, something that many will not have expected ever to face.

Any parent will know that juggling all the responsibilities of raising children alongside employment and everything else can be stressful at the best of times. This Bill helps to protect the rights of those families at the most traumatic and distressing point, as they get beyond the horrific loss of a mother, with all the stresses and strains that such circumstances will entail, and gives them the time they need to move forward as best they can, both physically and mentally.

I have read through the changes made in Committee and I think they are sensible to ensure that the Bill achieves the best possible desired effect. The most significant change now refocuses the Bill on addressing the specific issues through paternity leave, as opposed to through shared parental leave as was originally envisaged, creating day one rights for paternity leave. That is a particularly important change for those families where the deceased mother did not work. Under the Bill as first proposed, there would not have been any shared parental leave for the other parent to access, but paternity rights exist whatever the entitlement of the other parent. As amended, the proposed extension to paternity rights is the best possible choice and will ensure that more families in such tragic circumstances can benefit from the changes.

It is important that those rights are extended to cases where, as the hon. Member for Ogmore said, both mother and child do not survive childbirth, to reflect the impossibly challenging trauma of getting through losing both a partner and an expected child. Although I recognise that this Bill does not do everything that was originally envisaged to address the issue of pay—in an ideal world that would also be resolved—I think there is recognition that addressing pay is more complex. I hope that will continue to be considered further, and I will closely follow it.

It should be recognised that many employers will already go over and above to support employees during such circumstances, both with leave and financially. I hope the provisions will be treated as a floor, not a ceiling, for the support offered. There will also be other bereavement support for which individuals might be eligible.

The Bill is a major step forward in securing the rights of families going through the toughest of circumstances having lost a mother. It will have a major beneficial impact on those families when they are at their most vulnerable. I wish my hon. Friend continued success in this important Bill’s progress through the other place, and I look forward to seeing it become law.

Photo of Justin Madders Justin Madders Shadow Minister (Future of Work), Shadow Minister (Employment Rights and Protections) 1:04, 26 Ebrill 2024

It is a pleasure to speak on Third Reading of this important Bill, which has cross-party support, as we have heard. I congratulate my hon. Friend Chris Elmore on his success in steering the Bill to this point. I am aware of how much work he has done with the Government to get their support and to ensure that the legislation can go through the other place and gain Royal Assent. I also recognise that Darren Henry has worked constructively on behalf of his constituent, Aaron, and with my hon. Friend, to ensure that the legislation will be in place. He spoke movingly about how the tragic circumstances of his constituent, who lost his wife, Bernadette, moved him to take action.

A number of Members have noted the importance of this work. Sara Britcliffe spoke about the work that she has done in light of the very tragic circumstances of one of her constituents. She showed how Members can work constructively—with the NHS in her case—to makes changes so that no one else has to go through the experiences that we have heard about. Jack Brereton spoke with great sincerity about why this legislation is so important.

As we have heard, the Bill as amended will disapply the employment conditions to which an employee’s right to paternity leave is subject in the event of their partner dying. In effect, it will make paternity leave a day one right for the partner of a mother who has died, with no continuity of employment test. The right is also extended to the tragic circumstances in which both mother and child die, despite the fact that paternity leave is usually taken only for the purposes of caring for a child. As we know, partners of mothers who die in or just after childbirth are not currently entitled to paternity leave if they have not met the continuity of employment requirements. That means that some people find themselves in the unfortunate position of not being entitled by right to paternity leave. If their employer chooses not to show compassion by voluntarily providing leave, an individual could be left grieving for their partner, as well as undertaking the mammoth responsibility of being a single parent to their child, without workplace support. Like other Members, I find it very hard to imagine how anyone could face such a devastating situation with the added pressures of job insecurity on top.

It is right to acknowledge that most responsible and caring employers would react to such a devastating scenario with compassion and do the right thing by their employee, regardless of whether any law required them to do so. However, making it a legal requirement will mean that the vanishingly small number of employers who do not act in that way will now have to and the employee has one less thing to worry about.

My hon. Friend the Member for Ogmore said that he wants the Bill to help as few people as possible. That is an unusual statement to make in this place, but it is an important point. Thankfully, the legislation will apply to few people because death during or just after childbirth is very uncommon. The excellent work that our midwives and doctors perform means that the number of mothers who sadly pass away within 42 days of birth stands at roughly 12 for every 100,000 births. Of course, each death is a tragedy and a profound loss, but we should recognise that those tragic circumstances occur in only a small number of instances. The fact that it has taken Aaron’s situation for the matter to come before us means that it is important that we act to prevent people falling through cracks because of legislative oversight.

As we know, at present the only right to statutory bereavement leave is for parents who have lost children up to the age of 18. Leave is a day one right, but the entitlement to pay is conditional on their having been in employment and earning a certain amount over eight weeks. Shared parental leave provisions also may not always help people in facing the situation that this Bill was originally drafted to help. Not only is there a time restriction on access, but income requirements can differ for the mother and partner. The system is rather complicated, and we know that families have been discouraged from taking up shared parental leave; figures show that only 2.8% of partners decide to take it up. As we have heard, by virtue of the amendments agreed in Committee, by using paternity leave rather than parental leave as the vehicle for entitlement, hopefully more people will be protected. It would also mean that the surviving parents of adopted children or children born through surrogacy arrangements will be included, and we welcome those changes.

I commend my hon. Friend the Member for Ogmore for working constructively with the Department and the Minister to achieve the desired outcome. I also note with interest the new powers in clause 1(4), which provide for the ability to introduce regulations to enhance redundancy protection for bereaved employees when they return from extended paternity leave, and to allow bereaved parents to have keeping-in-touch days during their extended paternity leave. It would be useful when the Minister responds to hear whether it is his intention to use those powers to introduce regulations. In particular, as my assumption would be, will the regulations be analogous to current paternity leave provisions?

In conclusion, we are pleased to see the Bill reach this stage, and we now wish it safe passage through to the other place. Again, I commend my hon. Friend for his work on it, and I congratulate him on getting the Bill to this stage.

Photo of Kevin Hollinrake Kevin Hollinrake Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade) 1:11, 26 Ebrill 2024

May I first express my thanks to Chris Elmore for bringing forward this important Bill and for his collaborative efforts all the way through. He is an absolute pleasure to work with and has always displayed a real Whip’s pragmatism in making sure we got this Bill to the right place so that it could proceed as smoothly as possible. It is great to see so much cross-party support for it.

I also thank my hon. Friend Darren Henry, who has long campaigned on this issue and brought it to my attention. In 2022, one of the first meetings I had in my ministerial role was with him. He joined me with Aaron, who is in the Gallery today, and his son Tim. We express our very best wishes to them for their campaigning. My hon. Friend mentioned the power that people such as Aaron have to influence thinking in this place, but that power has to be channelled through a willing and capable Member of Parliament—he will be a Minister in due course, I am sure—and he has displayed that throughout. He has been persistent and his arguments have always been compelling, and persistence is important in this space. He has always engaged with me, trying to find the best way to bring this legislation forward, and he has found it. I am grateful for his efforts, and so many parents will be, too, so I thank him very much for his work.

The hon. Member for Ogmore said—I think profoundly—that there is no politics in bereavement, and that is absolutely right; there should not be. It is always a pleasure for any Member to bring forward a private Member’s Bill, and these things are always team efforts. I was delighted to have that opportunity a couple of times myself as a Back Bencher with the Guardianship (Missing Persons) Act 2017 and the Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018, which was first promoted by my hon. Friend Will Quince. I picked that up on the back of his persuasion when I was drawn high in the ballot. It is always a pleasure to say you have achieved significant change in this place, and both Members who have contributed today and made the largest contribution to bringing forward this Bill have done that in no uncertain terms.

Unlike entitlement to maternity leave, which starts on the first day of a woman’s employment, there is currently no day one leave entitlement for employed fathers and partners. As such, if a mother dies in the first year of a child’s life, a father or partner who has not met continuity of service requirements for paternity or shared parental leave will not have the statutory right to take leave so that they can care for their child. In those tragic, but thankfully rare, circumstances, they need to rely on the compassion of their employer to provide them with adequate leave and job security. It was good to note that Aaron’s employer did show compassion, but that cannot be relied on as a matter of course. As my hon. Friend Jack Brereton said, we decided to use the paternity leave elements of our framework to deliver this legislation, which covers more circumstances. The new statutory entitlement will offer day one leave for fathers and partners in the event of the mother’s death in the first year after the child’s birth. Those are tragic circumstances, and it was very moving to hear my hon. Friend Sara Britcliffe talk about her constituent who is in that situation.

Members have asked in the past for the entitlement to be a paid right. In line with other entitlements, such as statutory parental pay, and for consistency of approach, the Government believe statutory pay should be available only to employees who meet continuity of service and minimum earnings tests. Other than in the case of small employers, employers are required to contribute towards the costs of statutory parental pay and meet the costs associated with their employees’ absence from work. Those requirements reflect the relationship between employer and employee, and are designed to ensure a parent has made a reasonable contribution to their employer’s business before that employer is required to administer statutory parental payments.

On the number of people the measure should apply to, as the hon. Member for Ogmore stated, there are about 180 maternal deaths within 12 months of childbirth per annum. For a variety of reasons, we cautiously assume that 50% of those eligible will take up the leave entitlement. For example, it is highly likely that those who are eligible for shared parental leave and pay will take that paid entitlement instead, and some employers may provide paid bereavement, compassionate or special leave. Although the numbers may be small—we estimate fewer than 100 per annum—we are committed to ensuring parents in that position have a dedicated leave entitlement.

Once in force, the Bill will give bereaved parents the support and protection they need during one of the most devastating periods of their lives. It will be available to employees, regardless of how long they have been working for their employer, provided they fulfil other eligibility criteria. Although we estimate that the number affected by those circumstances is low, the emotional strain and physical toll of caring for a new child while grieving the loss of a partner is unimaginable.

I am pleased that the Government can support this vital piece of legislation through the Houses. On Second Reading and in Committee, its ambition gained cross-party support. We continue to discuss our plans for the Bill with stakeholders, including the Federation of Small Businesses, the Institute of Directors, the Confederation of British Industry and charitable organisations such as Working Families and Pregnant Then Screwed, and we look forward to working with them further to develop this legislation.

Losing a partner is a truly horrific experience for anyone, and combining that terrible grief with the challenges of caring for a new baby must be incredibly hard. I very much echo the sentiment expressed by the hon. Member for Ogmore: I sympathise with anyone who finds themselves in that terrible situation.

The United Kingdom has a range of generous entitlements and protections designed to help parents balance their family and work commitments and maintain their place in the labour market. For example, the UK has one of the most generous maternity leave entitlements in the OECD. We also offer paternity leave and pay to fathers and partners, and enable a mother to share her maternity entitlement through shared parental leave and pay. We are also on track to deliver neonatal care leave and pay for those parents who need to take time to be with their baby when they are receiving neonatal care, with up to 12 weeks’ entitlement.

In all, there are seven new private Members’ Bills that expand entitlements in the workplace, and they include: this Bill; the neonatal care legislation; the right to request flexible working; the tipping Bill; carer’s leave, which entitles those with a dependant with long-term care needs to take up to a week’s care leave per year; the right to request predictable terms and conditions—predictable hours, if you like, Mr Deputy Speaker—and protection from redundancy for parents who are pregnant or on maternity leave when they return to work.

Photo of Nickie Aiken Nickie Aiken Ceidwadwyr, Cities of London and Westminster

My hon. Friend is making a good point about the private Members’ Bills that have been coming through the House to help with employment rights in the workplace. He will recall that I had my own Fertility Treatment (Employment Rights) Bill. Does he agree that it is important that we do as much as we can to support people going through fertility treatment to get paid time off work?

Photo of Kevin Hollinrake Kevin Hollinrake Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)

My hon. Friend is a doughty campaigner and has approached the issue in absolutely the right way. I know that she was keen for us to legislate in that area. We have made so many different improvements to workplace entitlements that we did not feel there was parliamentary time available for that, but I know that she will keep campaigning. In the background, prior to legislation happening, she has worked closely with many employers to ensure that they offer that support on a voluntary basis. She is setting the right standard in showing what can be achieved even without legislation in this place, and I very much support her efforts.

The shadow Minister, Justin Madders, asked whether we are considering greater protections against redundancy in certain circumstances. We are, and I am happy to have a continued conversation with him on that.

When in force, the Bill will ensure that a parent who is already grieving the loss of their partner does not have to worry about whether they will get the necessary leave from work to care for their child. As I stated in Committee, the Government wholeheartedly supported the amendments tabled by the hon. Member for Ogmore, which are crucial to ensuring the Bill’s effectiveness, fairness and inclusivity, and support the Government’s commitment to bolster the participation of parents in the workplace.

As with most family leave and pay entitlements, much of the detail will be delivered through secondary legislation, which will come before the House in due course. By introducing this change to the legislative framework, we will ensure that employees who lose their partner in the time surrounding childbirth or adoption have access to a period of leave to care for their new child. This change means that bereaved partners need not rely on the good will of their employer to take time off work—and, importantly, they can stay connected to the labour market until they can return to work.

I thank hon. Members for their valuable contributions to the debate. The Bill is an important extension of the support and protection that we already provide to parents; in this case, it is for when they face one of the most challenging situations of their lives. As such, the Government take pride in endorsing this private Member’s Bill. I again thank my hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe, other hon. Members who made contributions and, finally, the hon. Member for Ogmore for continuing to work with me to develop the Bill into a piece of legislation that will work effectively for parents and businesses alike. I also thank the officials, who have done such a fantastic job. As I said, it is not just this legislation, because we have six other private Members’ Bills. They have worked under huge pressure this year and done a fantastic job. I very much appreciate their efforts. I hope that the Bill will progress rapidly to the next stage in Parliament.

Photo of Chris Elmore Chris Elmore Opposition Whip (Commons) 1:24, 26 Ebrill 2024

With the leave of the House, I thank all Members who have spoken in this debate, including the hon. Members for Hyndburn (Sara Britcliffe) and for Stoke-on-Trent South (Jack Brereton). The hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent South has consistently supported the Bill, and I am grateful to him for always being here when the Bill was debated on the Floor of the House.

I said at the beginning that I wanted to thank the organisations that have supported the Bill and I do so again. The support of organisations such as Gingerbread, the Fawcett Society and the Childhood Bereavement Network has been invaluable not just in making sure that the Bill works for parents but in giving living examples of people who are left behind to raise a child. I have had several conversations with bereaved parents, some of whom were bereaved years and years ago, who have said what a difference this legislation would have made had it existed at the time. Nobody expects to lose their partner in childbirth—it is unimaginable in that sense—but now they are able to reflect on it in those terms.

I could not conclude without paying tribute to Darren Henry. He was instrumental in convincing an Opposition Whip to take on his Bill, and I said at the time that that was quite an achievement. But we are actually here today because of Aaron, Bernadette and Tim. I wish we were not, in truth, but we are, and that is because of people such as Aaron and their dogged determination to convince their MPs that the law could be changed.

I pay tribute to the officials again, and to Rebecca Harris, who is instrumental in ensuring that so many Bills are passed every sitting Friday, week after week. I can recall days when no private Member’s Bills were passed, Mr Deputy Speaker, under a previous Whip for PMBs, and that was the sport of the Friday. These days, many pass with good cause and I am so pleased that Members have supported the Bill’s progress to the other place. I look forward to it gaining consent from there and from His Majesty the King.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.