MPs break new ground by publishing report in range of formats

08 February 2010

A report which proposes a range of measures to encourage more diversity in politics is being published in a number of alternative ways so that it is accessible to people with the majority of disabilities.

A summary of the Speaker’s Conference report on Parliamentary Representation is being published in Braille, easy read, large print and will be available in CD and MP3 audio.

The report (published in standard form on January 11) focussed on women, people from ethnic minorities, disabled people and people from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) communities. It makes a number of recommendations to help encourage disabled people to consider a career in politics.

The MPs found that many of the barriers for disabled people are physical and practical and among their recommendations was that, at national level, the political parties should publish their campaign literature in a variety of formats.

The Conference also recommended that;

  • Bursaries should be available to help disabled people who can find it particularly hard to afford the costs of a candidacy
  • All political parties should appoint national and/or regional community champions to encourage participation by disabled people
  • A shortage of funds must not be an excuse for local parties failing to make proper arrangements for disabled people to play their part in politics. Best practice on how best to use limited funds should be shared
  • The House needs to correct the impression that it does not welcome disabled Members. The passage into law of the Equality Bill currently before Parliament is a good opportunity for the House authorities to announce publicly how committed they are supporting disabled Members
  • Section 141 of the 1983 Mental Health Act, which means an MP could lose his or her seat in Parliament if detained under the Act for a period of six months or more, is unnecessary and damaging and should be repealed

Commenting on the new accessible versions of the report Anne Begg, Vice-Chair of the Speaker’s Conference said:

"Our inquiry has shown that there are many practical steps which can be taken to support the development and candidacy of individuals who are disabled.

"With the publication of our report in a variety of formats we hope that we have taken one simple step to help more people realise that they can be involved in the issues that affect them.

Easy Read, Braille, Large Print and Audio CD copies of the report are available upon request from the Conference Secretariat: Tel: 020 7219 0654, Type Talk: 020 7219 1587.

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