Lord Freud praises Britain’s acceptance of his family in maiden speech

July 13, 2009 at 2:58 pm 2 comments

A new member of the House of Lords made his maiden speech on Friday in support of the Autism Bill.

David Anthony Freud, Baron Freud, of Eastry in the County of Kent, took his place on the Conservative party benches last month.

The great-grandson of psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, he is a journalist, City businessman and shadow minister for  welfare reform.

“My Lords, I am delighted to rise for the first time in your Lordships’ House in support of this Bill,” he said.

“First, perhaps I may place on record my appreciation to the staff of this House for their helpfulness towards me and my family.

“I am particularly impressed by the way in which the Doorkeepers thrust notes into my hand as I wander through the corridors.

“They clearly have a much better idea of where I am than I do.

“Let me turn to the Autism Bill.

“I congratulate my honourable friend in another place, Cheryl Gillan, on championing this Bill and the noble Baroness, Lady Pitkeathley, on so ably introducing it in this House.

“I should like to take the opportunity to draw your Lordships’ attention to the close connection with another Bill before this House, the Welfare Reform Bill.

“The underlying concept in that Bill is that, if we invest in a disciplined fashion in people who need help in making their way in the labour market, we all win—that is, the individuals concerned, society and the taxpayer.

“The autistic fit exactly into this paradigm.

“Indeed, when I was compiling my independent report on this matter two and a half years ago, autistic people were one group that I had explicitly in mind.

“With the right support, autistic adults can make an incredible contribution in the workplace.

“Many have an attention, a focus on detail and a sheer perseverance that can be invaluable attributes in particular jobs.”

Lord Freud said that BT is an example of a company attuned to the “extraordinary facility with numbers” that many autistic people display.

“The tragedy is that, according to estimates provided to me by the National Autistic Society, only some 50,000 adults with autism, or 15 per cent, have regular work.

“The approach presaged in the Welfare Reform Bill would allow us to find the very considerable resources necessary to transform the lives of those adults with autism.”

Lord Freud then paid tribute to the country his famous ancestor came to when fleeing the Nazis.

“With your Lordships’ indulgence, I should like to take advantage of this unique opportunity to place some more personal remarks on the record,” he said.

“My family arrived here 71 years ago at a very difficult time for this country and the world.

“They escaped only because Sigmund Freud, my great-grandfather, was a well-known figure.

“My father and grandfather were both desperately proud to join the Armed Forces of their newly adopted home.

“Indeed, my father parachuted back into Austria in 1945 as an officer of the SOE and single-handedly captured the enemy aerodrome of Zeltweg.

“The descendants of Sigmund Freud have been accepted and have thrived in this country. I cannot remember a single occasion—not one—when I have been made to feel an outsider or that I did not belong here.

“That is a remarkable testimony to the tolerance and generosity of this country.

“I firmly believe that—perhaps with one or two exceptions—I would not have been able to make that statement of any other country in the world.

“While I would not presume to speak for all Freuds, who are a fiercely individualist group, many of them will, I know, join me when I place on record in this place and at this very difficult time my gratitude to this great country for all that it has done to nurture the Freud family and other families who have come here for freedom and to achieve their potential.

“I thank the House for its indulgence.”

The Autism Bill has the support of the government and has passed all its Commons stages.

Click here to read the Commons debate on the bill.

It was given a second reading by the Lords on Friday and the Lords will now consider it in committee – a line by line examination of the Bill.

The Bill requires the Secretary of State for Health to publish an adult autism strategy and to issue associated statutory guidance.

It would also place a duty on local authorities and NHS bodies to act under this guidance.

photo: CBI


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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. KJ  |  July 14, 2009 at 3:32 am

    We adopted three boys with various forms of autism and appreciate those who would blog on such an important subject. People more than ever need to be informed about autism and what life is like for those so affected since this debilitating condition seems to be on the rise.

  • 2. ukbix  |  July 17, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    This all coming from the man who thought people on incapacity were only assessed by their own GP’s?

    the welfare reform bill is not going to help people with mental health problems, and it amazes me that this man is allowed to comment on benefit related issues when he has demonstrated such a level of incompetance in the area, such a low level of understanding of the system


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