HC Deb 27 November 1973 vol 865 cc193-4
5. Mr. Carter-Jones

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will give directions to disablement rehabilitation officers to continue monitoring the employment prospects of persons who have received training for overcoming dyslexia ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Dudley Smith

When my Department's services are sought by someone known to have been trained to overcome this disorder, affecting reading or writing ability, he gets the special assistance of a disablement resettlement officer who keeps in touch with him after he starts work, when it is appropriate to do so. No special directions to disablement resettlement officers are necessary in this matter.

Mr. Carter-Jones

I thank the Minister for that reply, although it is unsatisfactory. What instructions do disablement rehabilitation officers receive about getting in touch with people suffering from dyslexia and making sure that they receive training? Is he aware that it is estimated that about 5 per cent. of the population suffer from this complaint and that those who are elderly or middle-aged have no chance of getting a job? Will he give funds to the British Council for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled—the only body which makes provision for these people?

Mr. Smith

I am advised that there are difficulties in diagnosing this disorder with any certainty and it is, therefore, difficult to estimate the number of sufferers. The British Council for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled has a remedial and diagnostic centre for adults, and our disablement resettlement officers refer to that centre suitable people for guidance and training. Next year the council hopes to bring out a report which should give valuable guidance to further thought in this sphere and which will be acted on by my Department.

Mr. Holland

Will my hon. Friend indicate the size of the problem as it affects people who are seeking employment? To what extent can dyslexia be overcome by suitable training?

Mr. Smith

It can be overcome, I think, by suitable training, and certainly by expert medical guidance. It often affects people with good intellectual abilities in other respects. The problem should not be over-emphasised. Fortunately, it is relatively small, but even a few people deserve the right kind of guidance.