I thank the hon. Member for Linlithgow and East Falkirk (Martyn Day) for the eloquent way he introduced this debate. I will try to be as brief as possible so that everyone can get in. I want to address my remarks to the Minister directly. She has heard why we are here. More than 100 of my constituents signed the petition, and quite a few of them, including myself, have had experience of motor neurone disease affecting either family or friends. It is a brutal, savage condition, but we meet people all the way along the road dealing with this dreadful condition, and they all work on the basis that there will be light at the end of the tunnel, and the light that we see now at the end of the tunnel is research.
Like others, I have been using the Government’s figure of £54 million investment without realising that only £5 million was directly targeted. The sense I get from people at the moment, and from the associations and charities that work in this field, is one of optimism that we could be close to a breakthrough in identifying how to predict, prevent, treat and cure this condition. The sense I get is that a little more money, distributed effectively and invested wisely, could tip us over the edge in tackling this condition.
I say to the Minister that the problem we face is fragmented funding sources and the lack of certainty and predictability about the scale of investment that will really help us to bring the science together and tackle the issue effectively. We will assist her in lobbying the Treasury. We are at that stage in the spending review process when departmental bids are going in and hard negotiations are well under way. We will help her in those negotiations, because not only do we believe that we are on the cusp of a breakthrough but it chimes with everything that has been said by the Prime Minister, the Chancellor and successive Health Secretaries about how we need to invest in life sciences, link with the pharmaceutical industry, and in that way become world leaders.
In the context of the overall spending review, this is not a great deal of money to be asking for on such a critical issue, which affects so many of our constituents and their families in a heartbreaking way. We will support the Minister as much as we can in her submission on this matter. The £50 million that we are talking about over a five-year period is a drop in the ocean in comparison with some investments in other conditions. Many of us believe that we are clearly on the edge of something big that could, again, chime with what the Prime Minister has been saying about how we can be world leaders in the field of life sciences research.
I urge the Minister to take on board everything that has been said by this cross-party group of Members. Behind us, literally hundreds of thousands of people are looking to the Government for the small step forward that could provide us with such an immense breakthrough.