WATCH: Labour MP gives emotional speech after winning fight to help bereaved parents

Posted On: 
3rd July 2019

A Labour MP gave a tearful thank you in the Commons after winning a three-year fight to assist bereaved parents cover funeral costs.

Carolyn Harris addresses the Commons abou the Children's Funeral Fund
Credit: 
Parliament TV

Carolyn Harris made an emotional statement to the chamber, thanking those who supported the introduction of the Children’s Funeral Fund in memory of her own son, Martin.

The Swansea East MP had been vying to help grieving parents during “their darkest hour”, after her eight-year-old boy died in a road accident in 1989.

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She told the House: “Since 2016 I have been asking the Government to introduce a fund that would assist bereaved parents during their darkest hour and financially support them in funds for the funeral.

“I have at times been impatient, I have at times been frustrated but I’ve always known it was the right thing to do.

“The Prime Minister, the Honourable members for Charnwood and Colchester and indeed the civil servants have delivered on my request.”

She added: “Martin’s fund is a legacy for my son and will be a comfort to every parent that will need to use it in the future so from the bottom of my heart, thank you.”

The Children’s Funeral Fund is understood to start operating 23 July, and will help the families of the estimated 4,350 children who die each year.

Their grieving loved ones are left facing thousands of pounds in council fees for the burial or cremation, but under the new scheme parents will no longer have to pay those costs for the deaths of under 18s.

 

In response Commons Speaker John Bercow said: “The sheer passion, the sincerity and the integrity with which she has spoken and conducted herself are an example to us all.

“The determination which she has shown is an enormous credit to her, her constituency, her party, the House, and I think people across politics and beyond are inspired by the way she has behaved and we are unstinting in our admiration for her.”

Theresa May also paid tribute to Ms Harris, adding she was pleased to have been able to introduce the initiative.

She said: “This was born out of personal sadness but there are many families in the future who will benefit from the passion, commitment and determination that she has shown in championing this issue.

“I’m pleased we have been able to introduce this fund and I would echo the Speaker’s comments in commending the honourable lady for the way in which she has championed this cause.

“As I say we share and are concerned about her own personal sadness that she went through, that she has taken that and put it to good benefit for families up and down the country.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn added: “I want to say thank you to the member for Swansea East for the fantastic campaign she’s mounted and the comfort she’s brought to those who have been through the unimaginable strain of losing a child, and sadly those who will lose a child in the future will at least know that because of her work, one part of the commemoration of that child’s life will be made a little bit easier.

“On behalf of so many families can we just say thank you very much for everything you’ve done.”