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Why hold a parliamentary debate?

Find out more about the importance of our parliamentary debate on access to Orkambi.

On Tuesday 14 December, MPs from across the UK attended a parliamentary debate to put pressure on the Government to help break the deadlock that has been reached in negotiations on Orkambi between the manufacturer Vertex Pharmaceuticals, the NHS and Government. The Accelerated Access Review – an influential report recently published into speeding up access to treatments like Orkambi - has made recommendations that could be the key to breaking this deadlock. MPs spoke on behalf of people from the CF community to highlight how vital it is that these recommendations are applied to the Orkambi process without delay, and David Mowat MP responded. 

Darren O’Keefe, Public Affairs Manager at the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, has answered some questions to shed light on why debates like this are so important. Scroll to the end of this article to watch a video explaining the top five points that came out of this debate, or you can watch the debate in full on ParliamentLive.

What is a parliamentary debate?

Parliamentary debates are one of the key mechanisms by which Parliament holds the Government to account. Debates to take place in the House of Commons. At a debate, the lead MP or MPs will deliver a speech, directly questioning Government policy. Other MPs in attendance can then come in and expand upon the subject, raising issues on behalf of constituents who have written to them in advance on the debate. The Minister responding on behalf of the Government must then address the points raised in the debate.

Why are we having one?

There are other ways to put pressure on the Government, such as writing letters. However, this takes time and the responses can often miss the point. Debates are the best way to put pressure on the Government to act because MPs can make the case in detail on an issue and get an immediate response, all on the record. Apart from the vital job a debate does in raising awareness of an issue at the highest level, a good outcome would be a commitment from the Minister to consider the matter in detail and to work with Trust in trying to resolve it. 

How are stories from the CF community used?

MPs are elected to raise matters with the Government on behalf of their constituents. However, MPs are very busy and have a lot or people demanding their attention. By sharing powerful personal stories we have the best possible chance of motivating MPs to take action. Those MPs who are able to attend the debate will often refer directly to the story they have received and demand the Government address the issue. This personal approach then has more impact on the Government. 

What was the impact of this debate?

Take a look at the video below to find out the top five take-home points from the parliamentary debate, and thank you to everyone who shared their story as part of the campaign. If you missed the debate, you can watch it in full on ParliamentLive.