§ Mr. Berry
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when a code of practice on the final phase of the provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 on access to goods, facilities and services will be laid before Parliament. 
§ Maria Eagle
A Code of Practice prepared by the Disability Rights Commission was laid before Parliament today. This explains the current duties on service providers and the duties that will come into force on 1 October 2004. Under the new duties, where reasonable, a service provider may have to remove, alter or avoid physical features that make access to his service impossible or unreasonably difficult for a disabled person. In addition, a report of the consultation on the code and on regulatory proposals was placed in the Library today.
Service providers have no need to be apprehensive about these new duties, as they will never have to make unreasonable changes because of them. The code will help service providers decide what it might be reasonable to do in particular circumstances. There are over 8.5 million disabled people in the UK with a collective spending power in excess of £45 billion a year. It makes good economic sense as well as being right to attract as many of these customers as possible by improving access to services. The Government have allowed a long transitional period for the new duties, and the Commission will be publishing the code early, so that service providers can plan adequately and, for example, make access improvements before 2004 as part of refurbishment or other work. I would strongly encourage them to do this.