§ 5. Mr. McAllion
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many representations his Department has received about the blocking of further progress on the Civil Rights (Disabled Persons) Bill.
§ Mr. Scott
We have received a large number of representations about the Civil Rights (Disabled Persons) Bill.
§ Mr. McAllion
In a personal statement to the House on 10 May, the Minister admitted that his Department had been involved in preparing amendments which were then used to block the Bill. Four days earlier, on 6 May, the Minister had told the House that no one in his Department had been involved in any way in drafting the amendments. Does he accept, therefore, that his statement on 10 May showed clearly that he was peddling untruths to the House on 6 May? Should not he, as the Minister responsible for this tawdry and discreditable denial of civil rights to people with disabilities, take the only honourable course and resign from his high office?
§ Mr. Alan Howarth
Does my right hon. Friend accept that his personal commitment to the support of the disabled is widely recognised? Will he accept congratulations on the Government's commitment to consult with a view to preparing anti-discrimination legislation?
§ Mr. Scott
I am grateful to my hon. Friend. As he mentioned, we have made clear our intention to consult on employment; the impact of the building regulations on access to buildings; goods and services and their availability to disabled people; financial services; and the establishment of a national body that the Government could consult on disability issues.
§ Mr. Sheerman
Would the Minister accept an invitation to join me and many other hon. Members from both sides of the House at the Trafalgar square rally on Saturday, where he would learn of the bitterness that disabled people and their vast army of supporters feel about the way in which the Government subverted their civil rights Bill? He would further learn that the people who will be there in their many hundreds, if not thousands, on Saturday, believe that they deserve and will get the Bill, the whole Bill and nothing but the Bill—not a Government milk-and-water, watered-down compromise?
§ Mr. Scott
I shall not be able to join the hon. Gentleman at his gathering. However, I am aware, not least from the correspondence that I have received and representations from hon. Members on both sides of the House, of the strength of feeling in favour of the Bill. I happen to believe that the approach represented by the Bill is the wrong one at the moment and that the approach that the Government have suggested represents the right way to tackle the undoubted discrimination against disabled people. We are determined to tackle it in a practical and workmanlike manner.