HC Deb 20 March 1970 vol 798 cc896-7

2.15 p.m.

Mr. Freeson

I beg to move Amendment No. 13, in page 3, line 24, leave out from 'in' to 'the' in line 25 and insert: 'doing so, to make provision, in so far it is in the circumstances both practicable and reasonable, for'.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

It will be convenient at the same time to take the following Amendments: No. 14, in line 32, leave out from 'notice' to 'the' in line 33 and insert: 'make provision, in so far as it is in the circumstances both practicable and reasonable, for'. No. 15, in line 32 leave out 'have regard so far as practicable to' and insert: 'make provision, so far as is practicable for'.

Mr. Freeson

Clauses 4 and 5, to which these Amendments relate, provide for a duty to be placed on local authorities, when providing public sanitary conveniences, to have regard to the needs of the disabled in considering the design and siting of those conveniences as far as it is practicable and also to apply the same approach where a Section 89 notice is served under the Public Health Act, 1936, in respect of the provision of sanitary conveniences in an existing building.

In Committee I undertook to consider the possibility of strengthening the Clauses which had been tabled at that stage by imposing a positive obligation to make provision for the needs of the disabled in place of a duty merely to have regard to them. As a result we have the Amendments on the Notice Paper in my name applying the principle on which I gave that undertaking.

The qualifications built into the Amendments need to be more than that of practicability, because there may be instances in which special provision is unnecessary or unreasonable. For that reason the Amendments extend the qualification to include reasonableness as well as practicability. Under the terms of the Clause as amended, the authority would need to provide, in so far as it is practicable and reasonable, the facilities which we are seeking in public conveniences. That replaces the requirement simply to have regard to the needs of the disabled. We think that that is a more effective way of achieving the objectives of the Bill.

Mr. Alfred Morris

We should again acknowledge the remarkable help which has been given by my hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary. Throughout the Committee stage he listened carefully to every point put to him by the sponsors of the Bill, and again and again he gave an entirely positive and constructive response. He feels extremely keenly about the problems of access for those who are severely disabled.

My hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary has earned the respect of the Joint Committee on Mobility for the Disabled and he has earned the deep respect of those who are associated with Access for the Disabled. Mr. Denly, who is a leader of both organisations, took particular pleasure in the fact that my hon. Friend was able to speak on the general theme of planning an urban environment for the disabled at a recent and very important conference held in London. What we seek to do is to allow disabled people to lead more normal lives. Doors now closed to them will be opened by the Amendment and the other provisions we seek to make. I very much welcome the Amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

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