HC Deb 03 December 1958 vol 596 cc1176-7
26. Mr. Hastings

asked the Minister of Labour how many local authorities have provided schemes of training for the deaf; and whether he will give some indication of the nature of these schemes and of their results.

Mr. Wood

Vocational training for the deaf, as for other disabled persons, is provided by my Department under the Disabled Persons (Employment) Acts and not by local authorities. It may take place at Government training centres, residential training colleges, technical or commercial colleges or with selected employers. In practice, the number of deaf persons who are suitable for vocational training and who avail themselves of these facilities is relatively small.

Mr. Hastings

Does the Parliamentary Secretary realise that quite a number of people suffer from deafness for which nothing can be done by mechanical aid and that the psychological condition of the very deaf is a very serious one? It is often worse than that of the blind, in that they tend to be suspicious and depressed. Will the hon. Gentleman see whether more can be done for this very unfortunate class in our community?

Mr. Wood

I have the greatest sympathy with what the hon. Gentleman says, because I think that total deafness is a very great disability. We shall always consider what further provision we could make; but facilities exist to train these people for employment and, for one reason or another, they are not used. One of the things we are trying to do at the moment is to co-operate with the voluntary bodies and we have recently issued a little pamphlet, which I expect the hon. Gentleman has seen, called "Deafness and Employment". That, I hope, will be of help.

Mr. Dugdale

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Minister of Health said recently that he would look into this matter and pay special attention to it? Will the hon. Gentleman consult him about it?

Mr. Wood

I will indeed, but this is a question about training, which my right hon. Friend said quite rightly, was in the hands of the Ministry of Labour.

Mr. Edward Evans

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that, through lack of capital resources, the voluntary societies are inhibited from embarking on a scheme of training, such as has been suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Barking (Mr. Hastings)? Further, is he aware that I have been in contact with his Minister and with the Minister of Health on this topic in order to find out how we can get sufficient capital grants to establish the right type of workshop and training centre for the adolescent deaf, and that we have been referred back to the big trusts? Will the hon. Gentleman consult the Minister to see if there are any funds available from Government resources with which we could establish a training centre, as is done for other handicapped people?

Mr. Wood

I will discuss that with my right hon. Friend, although it goes a little outside the Question I was asked.