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Session 2003/04, 27 May 2004

GOVERNMENT SHOULD SEIZE CHANCE TO DELIVER BETTER OPPORTUNITIES FOR DISABLED PEOPLE


GOVERNMENT SHOULD SEIZE CHANCE TO DELIVER BETTER OPPORTUNITIES FOR DISABLED PEOPLE

An all-party Committee of MP's and Peers concludes that a draft  Government Bill could go further to provide better opportunities for the UK's estimated 10 million disabled adults.

The Committee's report, published today, recommends ways for the Government to improve its Draft Disability Discrimination Bill.

The Chairman of the Committee, Lord Carter, said:

"We congratulate the Government for bringing forward the Draft Disability Discrimination Bill, but the Bill could go further to improve opportunities for disabled people. The chances to legislate on disability issues are few and far between - the Government should seize this opportunity to deliver for disabled people."

"The full Bill should be introduced into Parliament as soon as possible. Our recommendations need not cause additional delay and will help to forge a coherent and practical path towards full rights for disabled people."

The Committee recommends:

• The rules on who is counted as disabled should be amended in light of evidence that people with mental illnesses are not properly protected.

Transport

• The Government should agree − without further delay − a date by when all trains must be accessible to disabled people. A deadline of 2017 is suggested as an appropriate compromise between the needs of disabled people and the railway industry's current replacement programme.

                                                                      

TItle of the Bill

• The title should be the Disability Anti-Discrimination Bill, to highlight that the purpose of the measure is to combat discrimination.

Progressive Conditions

• People with progressive conditions should be covered from the point of diagnosis.

Duties of Public Authorities

• Disabled prisoners should be fully protected from discrimination.

• Public authorities should have a duty to promote good relations between disabled and non-disabled people.

Housing

• The full Bill should prohibit landlords from unreasonably withholding consent for a disabled tenant to make appropriate physical alterations to a property.

• The Government should consider whether the full Bill should include provisions for an accessible housing register to simplify the process of matching suitable accommodation to disabled people.

Tribunals

• Employment tribunals should be given the power to order reinstatement or re-engagement of an employee in disability discrimination cases.

Examining bodies

• All examining bodies and standard setting agencies should be covered.

Recommendations and conclusions

Chapter 15 of the report lists the Committee's 75 conclusions and recommendations. This covers: definition of disability, transport, public authorities, office holders, private clubs, housing, volunteers, tribunals, exam boards and financial implications.               

NOTES FOR EDITORS

1. The report is available in standard, Easy Read, Audio Tape, Braille or Large Print formats. The standard format report is published by The Stationery Office: Draft Disability Discrimination Bill, Joint Committee on the Draft Disability Discrimination Bill, HC 352-I, HL Paper 82-I, ISBN 0 10 400453 3, price £20.00. There is a separate evidence volume available.

2. The members of the Joint Committee on the Draft Disability Discrimination Bill were:

Lord Addington
Anne Begg MP (Aberdeen South)
Roger Berry MP (Kingswood)
Lord Carter (Chairman)
Tom Clarke MP (Coatbridge and Chryston)
Paul Goodman MP (Wycombe)
Tom Levitt MP (High Peak)
Lord Rix
Lord Swinfen
Lord Tebbit
Roger Williams MP (Brecon and Radnorshire)
Baroness Wilkins

(Together the members have a wealth of experience in the disability area.)

3. The Draft Disability Discrimination Bill was published in December 2003. It is part of a process which began in 1997 with the appointment of the Disability Rights Task Force to review existing disability anti-discrimination legislation.

For embargoed copies of the report or requests for interviews with Lord Carter contact:

Jillian Bailey, on 020 7219 8659 or e-mail: [email protected]

For further information contact:

Jake Vaughan, Lords Clerk to the Joint Committee, on

020 7219 6076 or e-mail: [email protected][email protected]