Speaking in a debate on diabetes, Sir Mike Penning highlights the importance of early diagnosis and the need for better support for parents when a child is diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
This is a very important debate and I am pleased we have time to listen to it. I will have to go and listen to my leader at 5 o’clock, so I apologise if I leave in the middle of the debate. With type 1 and type 2 diabetes, it is crucial to diagnose as early as possible. With type 1, which is very different from type 2, it is possible to diagnose very early on in the life of that person. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will allude to the differences between lifestyle issues and something that a person normally has when they are born. Surely the answer is testing early, so people can find out and have their educational needs met, and hopefully the product can be available across this great nation of ours.
I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman, who has a background in these matters, has drawn attention to the distinction between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. That is not to say that one is superior to the other, but they are two entirely different conditions brought about by entirely different circumstances. As I said in opening my speech, type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune condition. Nobody is entirely sure what triggers it in some people, but those in whom it is triggered have some predisposition towards the condition.
It is particularly important to draw the distinction for young people because, often, young people with type 1 diabetes are bullied very cruelly on the basis that their peers in school accuse them of having brought it on themselves by eating too many sweets or too much sugar. Of course, that is complete nonsense, but that does not stop that kind of bullying taking place.
I do apologise, Madam Deputy Speaker, but I will have to slip away straight after this intervention.
One group of people the right hon. Gentleman missed out, although it was not intentional, was parents. When a child is diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, there is a journey for the parents as well as the child, so there needs to be support for them. I completely agree with the right hon. Gentleman that diabetes does not pick on certain people from certain areas; it just picks on an individual. Sometimes it is hereditary—a lot of work is being done around the hereditary route—but it is not a choice; it is something that comes on to the family, rather than just the individual.
The right hon. Gentleman is right, and it was an omission on my part not to have acknowledged that. Any parent of a diabetic child has to experience the disease—at second hand, but in very important ways. The younger the child, the more responsibility parents have to take, so that is important. By the way, training and other support for parents needs to be built into the system.