HC Deb 08 March 1988 vol 129 cc173-4
3. Mr. McAvoy

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services what was his Department's expenditure in each of the last three years on education and publicity aimed at reducing discrimination against disabled people.

The Minister for Social Security and the Disabled (Mr. Nicholas Scott)

It is difficult to give the precise figures for which the hon. Gentleman askes. Considerable sums are spent promoting the integration of disabled people through practical measures and assistance to statutory and voluntary agencies.

Mr. McAvoy

I thank the Minister for his answer, but does he recall that the committee, set up by my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Morris), which reported as long ago as 1981, called for legislation to end discrimination against disabled people? When will the Government start listening to disabled people in their organisations and stop blocking the legislation that they require on this deeply important issue?

Mr. Scott

I think the hon. Gentleman will be aware that there is by no means unanimity of view about whether blanket legislation to prohibit discrimination against disabled people would be a sensible move, and the Government prefer to take practical measures to improve access for and the independence of disabled people.

Mr. Wareing

As the Government still set their mind against legislation, that is overwhelmingly supported by all the organisations for disabled people in Britain — the Minister will not be able to mention one that is against — is it not the Government's responsibility to say precisely how much is spent on education and publicity to prevent discrimination against disabled people? Why on earth has that not been done, in view of the disgraceful way in which the Bill that I presented to the House on 18 November 1983 was voted down with the help of the Whips?

Mr. Scott: It is not possible to give the figures because the Government support a range of voluntary and statutory organisations which undertake publicity and educational campaigns to promote the interests of disabled people. It is not possible to assemble the totality of that support.