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16 March 2017

Watch: Dawn Butler MP speaks in sign language in the Commons

The Labour politician asked if British Sign Language could be given legal status.

By media mole

In a rare instance of an MP signing in the Commons chamber, Labour’s Dawn Butler asked the Leader of the House if British Sign Language would be given legal status.

Watch it here:

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Butler said, while signing:

“I would like to sign my question. Will the minister agree the 18 March marks the 14th anniversary since the UK government recognised British Sign Language. Will the minister agree it is time to bring and give British Sign Language legal status like other recognised languages?”

David Lidington, the Leader of the House, replied:

“The Department for Work & Pensions has underway a review of the provision of signing services in this country . . . The Department for Education does now plan to accept British Sign Language as an alternative qualification to functional skills in English within apprenticeships.”

This is not the first time an MP has signed in the chamber. The Labour MP Tom Levitt, fluent in sign language, was the first politician to use it in the Commons, in an adjournment debate about British Sign Language in April 2000.