HC Deb 19 June 1979 vol 968 cc1101-2
9. Mr. David Price

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is his policy for the employment of disabled workers.

Mr. Jim Lester

Responsibility for employment services for disabled people rests with the Manpower Services Commission. The Government's policy is to support the Commission, particularly in its long-term aims of encouraging employers to develop more employment opportunities for disabled people and of gradually implementing its plans, published last year, for developing employment and training services for disabled people over the next five to 10 years.

Mr. Price

Is my hon. Friend aware that the long-established quota system has not worked terribly well? As just one positive measure, will the Government introduce a third element into the Queen's Award to Industry which is currently given for export achievement and technological advance, namely an element for achievement in employing registered disabled people?

Mr. Lester

We are well aware of my hon. Friend's interest in this problem. We recognise that the quota system has not worked successfully. We shall look at my hon. Friend's suggestion of other forms of incentives for people who help in dealing with this serious problem.

Mr. Carter-Jones

Will the hon. Gentleman consider a practice which has been used in other countries where quota system quotas have not been achieved? Will he consider imposing penal sanctions upon such firms so that money acquired thereby can be used for the benefit of the disabled and the good employers?

Mr. Lester

I think that the review currently being undertaken will probably produce a discussion document, to which the hon. Gentleman can contribute ideas such as that for our consideration.

Mr. Madel

Is the Manpower Services Commission considering putting additional resources into skillcentres so that some disabled people can learn a skill at them? There is evidence that a number of courses are unfilled and are not used in the skillcentres.

Mr. Lester

Various measures are operated by the MSC in skillcentres and in giving special grants for employers to improve their premises in order to employ disabled people. There are at least six measures, of which I am sure my hon. Friend is aware, which are designed directly to help the employment of disabled people.

Mr. Greville Janner

Will the hon. Gentleman consult his colleagues to see whether it is possible to extend the mobility allowance to groups of disabled people such as agoraphobics, who would be able to go out to work and take part in society if only they could be helped to be mobile?

Mr. Lester

An allowance is already paid by my Department for disabled people to enable them to be mobile in terms of employment, but I undertake to look at the hon. and learned Gentleman's suggestion.