Heidi Allen, a campaigner for changes to Universal Credit, was unable to speak after listening to an emotional speech by veteran Labour MP Frank Field.
Visibly upset and crying as she attempted to begin her speech in the debate, the Cambridgeshire South MP said: “I’m not very good at this job, am I?”
Her tears began after Mr Field, MP for Birkenhead and chairman of the Work and Pensions Select Committee, told MPs: “I’ve done surgeries for 38 years.
“On my last surgery, Friday, for the first time ever a gentleman rose after we had spoken. I had tried to persuade him not to commit suicide, such was the desperateness that he saw the future for himself, and I realised the hand that shook my hand was wet.
“He’d been crying. And the hand that shook my hand was the hand that wiped away those tears.
“On Friday, Feeding Birkenhead – which is the most brilliant but ought-to-be unnecessary organisation – reported a family coming in of husband, wife and young child. The child was crying with hunger. The family was fed.
“The father said it had been a lucky week for him because neighbours had taken pity and invited him to a funeral so they could finish off the food after the other funeral guests had been fed.
“When the little boy was shown a shelf where toys were, but also on that shelf were lunch packs, he chose the lunch pack.”
Despite her tears, Ms Allen rose to speak after Mr Field ended his speech. She paused, and then told MPs: “I’m humbled by the words from my honourable, good friend from Birkenhead.
“No government is perfect, no benefits system is perfect, no debate, no motion is perfect, but by God we work together and make this better,” she said.
Seeing she was distressed, Mr Field rose again to give her a chance to compose herself and said: “I’m just amazed for the first time I’ve been able to report those events publicly without weeping.
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“I’m so affected by them, I’m affected as she is. That’s the debate we’re really having – how do we represent here the desperateness of many of our constituents when many of us feel we can’t offer them hope.”
:: Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org in the UK
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