Ivan's death cancels PMQs in the House

THE death early this morning of David Cameron's severely disabled son Ivan has led to the postponement of today's Prime Minister's Questions.At a time of personal tragedy, the House of Commons forgets party politics and unites in grief and sympathy for the family involved.

THE death early this morning of David Cameron's severely disabled son Ivan has led to the postponement of today's Prime Minister's Questions.

At a time of personal tragedy, the House of Commons forgets party politics and unites in grief and sympathy for the family involved.

A Conservative Party spokesman said: “Number 10 contacted David Cameron's office and offered to suspend PMQs. We at the time were preparing for PMQs with William Hague but we gratefully accepted Gordon Brown's offer.”

Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg - who is on paternity leave following the birth of his latest child - have sent warm messages of support to David and Samantha Cameron.

Ivan, six, who suffered from cerebral palsy and a rare and severe epilepsy syndrome, was taken ill overnight and died at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, west London. Mr and Mrs Cameron have two other children, Nancy, five, and Arthur, three.

Mr Brown, whose own baby daughter Jennifer Jane died aged just 10 days old in 2002, expressed his and his wife Sarah's sorrow at Ivan's death.

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The Prime Minister told MPs: “I know that the whole House will want to express our sorrow at the sad death this morning of Ivan Cameron at the age of just six years old.

“I know that in an all too brief life, he brought joy to all those around him and I know also that for all the days of his life, he was surrounded by his family's love. Every child is precious and irreplaceable and the death of a child is an unbearable sorrow that no parent should ever have to endure.

“Politics can sometimes divide us. But there is a common human bond that unites us in sympathy and compassion at times of trial and in support for each other at times of grief. Sarah and I have sent our condolences to David and Samantha and I know the whole country - our thoughts and our prayers - are with David, Samantha and their family today.''

William Hague, effectively deputy Tory leader who spoke to Mr Cameron before making his statement, said: thanked the Prime Minister for his “generous and heartfelt” statement.

“Ivan's six years of life were not easy ones,” said Mr Hague. “His parents lived with the knowledge for a long time that he could die young but this has made their loss no less heartbreaking. Ivan much in his short life but he brought joy and love to those around him.

“As David himself has said in the past, for him and Samantha he will always be their beautiful boy.”'

Mr Hague said the Camerons were hugely grateful to the NHS care workers who “not only did their utmost for their son this morning but have helped every day since he was born.”

Liberal Democrat deputy leader Vince Cable said: “I think everybody in the House has experienced bereavement, but there is something especially sad and shocking about the loss of a child.

“We recognise, I think all of us, that this is something that is especially difficult to cope with.”

Speaker Martin then told MPs: “This House will share with me its sadness at this news and our hearts and sympathies go out to David and Samantha and to Nancy and Arthur. As a mark of respect to Ivan this House will suspend until 12.30pm this day.”'

Downing Street announced that the formal unveiling of a new portrait of former prime minister Lady Thatcher, which Mr Cameron had been due to attend at Number 10 later, had been postponed.

Mr Brown will make a brief statement at noon, followed by Mr Cameron's deputy William Hague and deputy Lib Dem leader Vince Cable. The Commons will then adjourn until 12.30pm