HC Deb 12 November 1970 vol 806 cc580-2
6. Mr. Marten

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is the present level of unemployment amongst registered disabled.

44. Miss Lestor

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what proportion of the registered disabled are at present unemployed.

Mr. Dudley Smith

11.6 per cent. of the total of registered disabled persons were unemployed on 12th October.

Mr. Marten

As this is a quite unacceptable figure, as I am sure all would agree, could my hon. Friend say what positive steps are being taken to improve the situation and when he expects to see results?

Mr. Smith

Yes, Sir. The Disablement Resettlement Officer Service has recently been reorganised and substantially strengthened. There will be increased inspection of records of employers and full use will be made of rehabilitation and training facilities. My right hon. Friend has asked me to take a special look at this matter to see whether there are other improvements which we can bring about. We are well aware of the disturbing nature of these high figures.

Mr. Alfred Morris

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the figures which he has given is deeply disquieting? Is he also aware that if there were the same level of unemployed among the able-bodied the situation would be regarded as a national scandal? Will he agree that it is time for a full and urgent inquiry into the employment problems of disabled people?

Mr. Smith

I wish to welcome the hon. Gentleman to the Opposition Front Bench. We all know his deep interest in this subject. I agree with him that this is a disturbing situation, and that is one of the reasons why we are looking further into the matter. We must face the situation that with a higher rate of unemployment, inevitably the figures go up for the disabled; and when the disabled fall out of work it is harder for them to get another job.

Mr. Money

In the light of that answer, would the Under-Secretary give special attention to those areas of the country, such as the East of England, which are inadequately served by Remploy services?

Mr. Smith

I am prepared to look at that matter. Remploy does a very important job in difficult circumstances, and we shall look at the situation in the East of England.

24. Mr. Molloy

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he is satisfied that industry in the Greater London Area is taking its correct percentage of disabled into employment; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Smith

The average level of compliance in the London and South Eastern Region is below that for the country as a whole but the unemployment rate amongst registered disabled people is also lower. While I am satisfied that most employers in Greater London are willing to employ disabled people provided they are suitable for the jobs on offer, I am having a fresh look at the problem to see whether any more can be done to improve the overall level.

Mr. Molloy

I am grateful for the last part of that reply. There is very significant concern both in Remploy and in the organisations for the disabled in Greater London that industry is not taking up its fair share of disabled employees. Therefore, I welcome very much the proposal to have a thorough investigation.

Mr. Smith

That is one of the reasons that we are looking again at the problem—to make sure that people are fulfilling their obligations. There are special problems in the London area, but we think that the whole problem should be tackled.

Mr. John Page

Would my hon. Friend remind the Chancellor of the bad effect on employment of S.E.T.?

Mr. Smith

I will see that that point is drawn to my right hon. Friend's attention.