HC Deb 21 October 1991 vol 196 c633
35. Mr. Corbyn

To ask the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed, representing the House of Commons Commission, how many people employed by the Commission are registered disabled; and what proprtion this is of total employees.

Mr. Beith

Of the total number of staff employed by the House of Commons, eight—that is, 0.7 per cent. of the total—are registered as disabled. The Commission's policy with regard to the employment of disabled persons is set out in its annual report of 1981–82, and—together with a summary of the positive action taken by management to increase the recruitment of disabled staff—was printed in the answer given on 13 June 1991 to a written question to me from the hon. Member for Paisley, South (Mr. McMaster).

Mr. Corbyn

Is that not a most unsatisfactory reply, and is not the situation disgraceful? Legislation suggests that a minimum of 3 per cent. registered disabled should be employed. There is no reason on earth why, having passed that legislation, the House cannot implement it.

The hon. Gentleman has said that a statement about a positive action programme was made in 1981–82. That was 10 years ago, and an amazing total of eight people with disabilities are now working in the building. That is a disgrace. I urge the Commission to consider this as a matter of urgency, and to increase the number of vacancies for people with disabilities, providing a model for the rest of the country and demonstrating that we do not believe that those who suffer from disabilities are unable to work gainfully.

Mr. Beith

The numbers that I gave did not include all who work in the building: the staff of the Property Srvices Agency were not part of the staff of the Commission.

The authorities have taken positive action beyond the 1981 statement to ensure that disabled persons are aware that applications from them would be welcome. Measures include a statement to that effect in all advertisements, encouraging disabled people to state whether they are registered; keeping close links with the disablement resettlement officers, and organisations representing disabled people, to which all job vacancies are sent; and facilitating the placement of disabled students for work experience. Disabled applicants will normally be shortlist-ed for interview if they are appropriately qualified. We are anxious to improve the figure as, I know, are many other employers.