I want to place on record that I think the suspension of Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday was absolutely right and proper. None of David Cameron’s senior colleagues – who are also his friends – would have wanted to stand in for him. The Prime Minister meanwhile will have been particularly saddened, having lost a child – Jennifer Jane – himself. Neither knockabout debate nor forensic questioning was appropriate yesterday. And it was a touching mark of respect to a senior parliamentarian to suspend the session.
Everyone spoke with great dignity, and their contributions are worth recording in full. I pay tribute as well to the service and sacrifice of Lance Corporal Stephen Kingscott, Marine Darren Smith and Private Ryan Wrathall.
"Gordon Banks (Ochil and South Perthshire) (Lab): If he will list his official engagements for Wednesday 25 February.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Gordon Brown): Lance Corporal Stephen Kingscott, Marine Darren Smith and Private Ryan Wrathall have all given their lives in the service of our country in Iraq and Afghanistan. I know that the whole House will join me in expressing our condolences to their families and friends. Time and again our service personnel show us their courage and commitment. They are dedicated men and women who are prepared to sacrifice their lives for our country and in the interests of a safer world. They shall not be forgotten.
I know that the whole House will want to express our sorrow at the sad death this morning of Ivan Cameron at the age of just six, and our condolences go out to David, to Samantha and to the Cameron family. I know that, in an all-too-brief young life, he brought joy to all those around him, and I also know that for all the days of his life he was surrounded by his family’s love. Every child is precious and irreplaceable, and the death of a child is an unbearable sorrow that no parent should ever have to endure.
Politics can sometimes divide us, but there is a common human bond that unites us in sympathy and compassion at times of trial, and in support for each other at times of grief. Sarah and I have sent our condolences to David and Samantha, and I know that the whole country, and our thoughts and our prayers, are with David, Samantha and their family today.
Mr. William Hague (Richmond, Yorks) (Con): I join the Prime Minister in paying tribute to Lance Corporal Stephen Kingscott and Marine Darren Smith, who were killed in Afghanistan, and to Private Ryan Wrathall, who died in Iraq. Whenever we read out such names, it is a reminder that whenever death comes, or however it comes, it is a devastating loss to the families involved. That is why I want to thank the Prime Minister on behalf of David and his family for his very generous and, I know, heartfelt words and for the private condolences that he passed on this morning. I also want to thank the Prime Minister for suggesting that we suspend the normal exchanges of Prime Minister’s questions, and the Speaker for agreeing to that exceptional action, which is deeply appreciated by David’s friends and colleagues in every part of the House. As much as anyone in the House, the Prime Minister will understand the dimensions of this loss—which, as he has said, is something no parent should have to endure. I spoke to David a little while ago, and he has asked me to pass on his thanks for the sympathy already expressed by so many colleagues in this House and beyond.
Ivan’s six years of life were not easy ones. His parents lived with the knowledge that he could die young for a long time, but that has made their loss no less heartbreaking. They also wanted me to say, once again, how hugely grateful they are to the many NHS and care workers, who not only did their utmost for their son this morning, but have helped him every day from the moment he was born. We should remember today that many thousands of other families are deeply grateful for the dedication, support and love of these highly professional people. We know how much their help has meant to the Cameron family. Ivan, their son, suffered much in his short life, but he brought joy and love to those around him, and, as David himself has said in the past, for him and Samantha he will always be their beautiful boy.
Dr. Vincent Cable (Twickenham) (LD): May I add my condolences to the family and friends of the three servicemen who died serving our country in Iraq and Afghanistan? May I also say a few words on behalf of my party leader, my parliamentary colleagues and my party to extend our deepest sympathy to the Cameron family on the loss of their son, Ivan, this morning? Everybody in the House will have experienced bereavement, but there is something especially sad and shocking about the loss of a child. We all recognise that that is something that is especially difficult to cope with. This is a personal tragedy that transcends all party barriers, and I simply express the hope that the family are given the space and privacy to grieve and cope with the tragedy that they have experienced.
Mr. Speaker: This House will share my sadness at this news. Our hearts and sympathy go out to David and Samantha, and to Nancy and Arthur. As a mark of respect for Ivan, this House will suspend until half-past 12 o’clock.