Portsmouth MP becomes first government minister to use British Sign Language in parliament

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CHEERS erupted as Portsmouth MP Penny Mordaunt made history becoming the first government minister to use British Sign Language (BSL) in Parliament.

The Tory international development secretary took the step as she announced a global disability conference, due to take place in London later this month.

Standing in front of MPs, the Portsmouth North MP said: ‘On July 24, we will hold a global disability conference here in London, organised by the UK government, by the Kenya government and by the International Disability Alliance.

‘For too long in the world’s poorest countries, disabled people have not been able to reach their full potential because of stigma or not enough practical support.

‘I am proud to be focused on this area which has been neglected for too long. The conference will support the global effort to advance disability inclusion for some countries’ most vulnerable people.’

MPs across the Commons applauded as she completed her statement.

Penny Mordaunt, Portsmouth North MP, uses British Sign Language during her speech in parliament today

Penny Mordaunt, Portsmouth North MP, uses British Sign Language during her speech in parliament today

Responding - and signing - speaker John Bercow said ‘That is good news.’

Speaking to The News after her historic comments, Ms Mordaunt said: ‘It was a lovely an unexpected reaction, I was delighted Mr Speaker joined in too.

‘It is important to highlight the summit which I hope will bring lasting change for many people.’

While Ms Mordaunt is the first government minister to use BSL during a debate in parliament, Labour’s shadow women and equalities minister Dawn Butler was the first MP to use BSL in the Commons during a debate in March last year.