HC Deb 26 January 1978 vol 942 cc1592-3
Q3. Mr. Carter-Jones

asked the Prime Minister if he is satisfied with the coordination between the Secretary of State for Employment and the Secretary of State for Social Services over mobility assistance for disabled people in or seeking employment.

The Prime Minister


Mr. Carter-Jones

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Manpower Services Commission's scheme for the travel to work of disabled people looks good on paper but it is totally ineffective? Will he give an undertaking that the scheme will be applied properly so that substantial numbers of disabled people shall not be denied the right to work because of lack of transport facilities?

The Prime Minister

I am aware of my hon. Friend's continued interest in this subject. I have been into the matter in view of his Question: I was surprised how few people had taken up the benefits of the scheme. It seems to me to be rather awkward and perhaps difficult to understand. I have asked my right hon. Friends the Secretary of State for Employment and the Secretary of State for Social Services—indeed, they were doing this already—to consider whether some improvements could be made and to publish new proposals in the near future.

Mr. Hannam

Is the Prime Minister aware that unemployment among disabled people is distressingly high and is caused mainly by the failure of the fares-to-work scheme to operate properly? If he is unable to achieve co-ordination among some members of this Cabinet, will he atleast see that there is co-ordination between these two very important Ministers?

The Prime Minister

I do not think that it is lack of co-ordination that has resulted in failure to take up the benefits. I think that the scheme has some basic difficulties. The new organisation, Mot-ability, will help in these matters. I have read its pamphlet on the subject. But the Government themselves must take new steps.

Mr. Ashley

As the main employment problem of disabled workers arises from the fact that thousands of employers are flouting their legal obligation to employ 3 per cent., why are Ministers so coy and reticent about prosecuting those employers? Is it because most Government Departments are also failing to employ their 3 per cent. quota and, therefore, Ministers are just as culpable as those reactionary employers?

The Prime Minister

I shall draw the attention of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment to what my hon. Friend says, and I shall ask the Civil Service Department to go into the matter of the Civil Service and see what justification there is for these charges.

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