Rt Hon Cheryl Gillan re-elected as Chairman of APPG on Autism


In the House of Commons today, Rt Hon Cheryl Gillan MP was re elected, unopposed, as the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Autism. The Group, one of the largest APPGs in Parliament, exists to improve awareness of autism and improvements to services and opportunities for people on the autistic spectrum and their families.

Speaking at the AGM Cheryl outlined the progress that had been made over the past year including setting up an enquiry into autism and education which was taking evidence today. She praised all the main parties who had included autism in their manifestos and will be setting out the new agenda at the next meeting of the Group after the Summer Recess.

“I am so delighted to be elected to chair this Group. We enjoy a very large cross party membership in the Commons and the Lords and we work well together across the political divides to improve the lives of people with autism”.

More women are now being diagnosed with autism and Rt Hon Cheryl Gillan MP took the opportunity, last week, at Justice Questions on Thursday 6 July to raise awareness that women prisoners may be affected.

Questioning the Justice Minister, Cheryl Gillan said:

“Thirty-eight per cent of women released from prison have no accommodation arranged for them, and more than 46% of women in prison have experienced domestic violence. The Minister knows that many of the problems associated with women prisoners revolve around their mental health. With increasing evidence that autism is to be found among the female population, will the Minister take advantage of this new set of statistics to look at mental health provision for women leaving prison? That is most important.” 

The Minister, Philip Lee MP, answered:

“ I thank my right hon. Friend for the question. I am responsible not only for women’s justice but for offender health. In September, I will have two roundtable meetings to discuss the current mental health provision, both for men and for women. We are aware that the combination of mental health not being treated properly and addiction not being treated properly are significant contributors towards recidivism.”

On 10 July, Cheryl Gillan asked a Written Question about the establishment of a care pathway for people with autism.

Mrs Gillan asked the Secretary of State for Health, with reference to the Independent Mental Health Taskforce report, entitled Five Year Forward View on Mental Health published in February 2016, what the timetable is for the establishment of a care pathway for autism.

Jackie Doyle-Price MP, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, replied:

“An indicative timeline for the development of care pathways was set out in the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health. The precise timetable for the establishment of a care pathway for autism will be confirmed by NHS England in due course.”

Cheryl Gillan said:  “ As we discover more about the needs of people with autism, it is vital that there should be careful consideration of the most appropriate care for all the individuals who are diagnosed with the condition.”