HC Deb 03 April 1978 vol 947 cc20-2
26. Dr. Edmund Marshall

asked the Minister for the Civil Service what progress has been made in increasing the percentage of employees of Government Departments who are registered disabled.

Mr. Charles R. Morris

I can assure my hon. Friend that I am very concerned to ensure that opportunities to employ registered disabled people in the Civil Service are not overlooked and Departments are well aware of their responsibilities in this matter.

The numbers of registered disabled persons employed by Government Departments are collected once a year. The latest available figures relate to the year ending 1st June 1977 which I gave to my hon. Friend on 26th October 1977. Until the figures for 1st June 1978 become available, it is not possible to assess changes in percentages achieved by Departments.

Dr. Marshall

If the Government are to give a lead in the employment of disabled persons, should not the proportion of civil servants registered as disabled be higher than the 3 per cent. prescribed for all large employers, and are not some Government Departments still well below that figure?

Mr. Morris

I am not wholly satisfied with the progress made in recruiting registered disabled persons to the Civil Service, but we should not minimise the contribution made by the Civil Service to the employment of such persons. It is a fact that the Civil Service, in employing 14,000 registered disabled persons, is the largest single employer of such people.

Mr. Hannam

How can the Minister be as complacent as he sounds when only 6 per cent. of Government Departments employ their quota of disabled persons compared with 37 per cent. employed by private firms? Is he aware that obstacles are placed on the Civil Service in respect of the employment of disabled people—such as the regulation that prevents sheltered employment?

Mr. Morris

I do not accept that my comments could be interpreted in any way as complacent. I must remind the hon. Gentleman that not only do I have to face pressure from him and many of my many of my colleagues, but my brother is the Minister with responsibility for disabled people, and he keeps me on my toes on this subject. It is not true for the hon. Gentleman to suggest that the Civil Service makes life difficult for registered disabled people to come into the Civil Service. We go to great lengths to recruit registered disabled people.

Hon. Members

Too long.

Mr. Speaker

Order. No wonder we are making slow progress.

Mr. Hayhoe

Is the Minister aware that he will have full support from the Conservative Benches for any measures aimed at improving the employment of disabled people within the Civil Service? Will he give some estimate of the number of disabled people who are employed in the Civil Service who would qualify to be registered as disabled but who have not taken the step of registering as such?

Mr. Morris

I am grateful for the hon. Gentleman's support for the Government's efforts at recruiting such people to the Civil Service. I cannot give any estimates. There is a problem even within the Civil Service of encouraging disabled civil servants to register as disabled.