21 March 2024

Parliament must be inclusive of communication difference

The RCSLT has supported a petition on the Parliament website tabled by STAMMA. The petition is also supported by the Michael Palin Centre, Disability Rights UK, and the Co-op.

The petition calls on the parliamentary authorities, Government and political parties, to make parliamentary debates an inclusive environment for those who communicate differently by changing procedures, and modelling behaviours where all members are treated with respect.

Why it matters

The catalyst for this action was the recent withdrawal of Liberal Democrat Chris Nelson from standing as a parliamentary candidate in the General Election due to abusive comments about his stammer from political colleagues.

It is not just candidates who communicate differently who face these issues. MPs and peers can face them, too.

What needs to happen

This needs to change so that:

  • Parliament is inclusive of communication difference
  • People who communicate differently feel able to stand for office so once elected or appointed they can play their full part in parliamentary proceedings
  • Parliament is representative of the country as a whole, given the many hundreds of thousands of people of all ages who communicate differently

In addition to debating if the culture, behaviours, and procedures of Parliament are inclusive of communication difference, the parliamentary authorities should make sure that Parliament itself becomes a communication accessible place, through undertaking the Communication Access UK training.

Next steps

The petition runs for six months. It can be signed by British citizens or UK residents.

If the petition gets 10,000 signatures, the Government will respond. If the petition gets 100,000 signatures, it will be considered for a debate.

Call to action

We encourage all our members to sign and share the petition to stimulate debate about how Parliament – and the country and society – can be inclusive of communication difference.

The petition is accessible on the Parliament website.

More information

For more information contact peter.just@rcslt.org and elissa.cregan@rcslt.org