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 House of Lords Chamber, Westminster

Amersham and Chesham MP’s Bill passed through House of Lords

6:10pm Thursday 22nd October 2009

By Andy Carswell

AUTISTIC people are guaranteed better care, it was said today, after a “groundbreaking” proposal by a Buckinghamshire MP were today made law.

The Autism Bill – put forward through a Private Members’ Bill by Chesham and Amersham MP Cheryl Gillan – passed its final stage after being voted through the House of Lords.

It means all local authorities and NHS trusts will be obliged to keep records of people with autism in order to provide better care for them.

Until today, this was not a legal requirement.

The Bill’s introduction also means health and social care services can face legal action if they fail to provide support for the 500,000 people in the UK affected by autism.

Mrs Gillan said: “I’d like to thank everyone for their support. It is extremely rare that a Private Members’ Bill goes on to become law, so this is a triumph for people with autism and their families.

“It’s a real testament to the overwhelming level of parliamentary support for this chronically excluded group.

“I hope it will make the crucial difference in their lives that people with autism need and deserve.”

The National Autistic Society said the Autism Bill – set to become the Autism Act when it receives Royal Assent – was “groundbreaking”.

Chief Executive Mark Lever said: “We’d like to thank Cheryl Gillan MP and the thousands of autism campaigners, MPs and peers for their support – together we have made legal history.

“Thousands of adults with autism told us they were experiencing serious mental health difficulties due to a lack of support.

“After a year of lobbying, this is the watershed moment they have been waiting for – this law could literally transform lives.

“It will add serious weight to the forthcoming adult autism strategy so now we’ll be keeping the pressure up on Government to make sure they get it right and deliver lasting change for people with this serious, lifelong and disabling condition.”

Source:  http://www.thisislocallondon.co.uk/news/4698706.Gillan_s_Autism_Bill_made_law/

Autism Act 2009

The Autism Bill has made it through its final parliamentary stage and will now become the Autism Act. The Act is the first ever disability-specific law in England.

The Autism Act started out as a Private Members Bill, drafted by The National Autistic Society (NAS) and taken forward by Conservative MP Cheryl Gillan. The Bill was backed by a coalition of 16 autism organisations and had overwhelming parliamentary support, being backed by all the main political parties. 

The adult autism strategy

The Autism Act will guarantee the introduction of the first-ever adult autism strategy, which will set out how local services should be improved to meet the needs of adults with autism. 

The strategy will cover a range of issues including health, social care, employment and training and, crucially, will be accompanied by guidance which places a legal obligation on local authorities and NHS bodies to meet certain requirements.

The strategy will be published by April 2010 and the accompanying legal guidance no later than December 2010.

We continue to campaign

We want to make sure the adult autism strategy is as strong as it can be. 

For this reason, we have launched our Don’t Write Me Off campaign, We want the Government – and the new autism strategy - to tackle the shocking proportion of adults with autism who are cut off from employment support or benefits. 

Take action now while this opportunity for change exists. Email your MP today and ask them to support the Don’t Write Me Off campaign.

You can find out what the Autism Act 2009 means for you by reading the document Autism Act: frequently asked questions, at the bottom of this page.

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