HC Deb 24 July 1990 vol 177 cc289-90
12. Mr. Wigley

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement on his Department's proposals for employment services for disabled people.

Mr. Jackson

The consultative document "Employment and Training for People with Disabilities" sets out our intentions for the development of services in the 1990s. These take forward themes established in the 1980s of integration into the work force and the active commitment of employers to good practices in creating employment opportunities for people with disabilities. The document has been widely distributed and the period for consultation lasts to 31 December.

Mr. Wigley

Does the Minister accept that disabled people need legal protection at work? Has the Department studied practice in France and Germany, which operate a quota and levy system? If not, will he undertake to study it before the conclusion of the current consultations?

Mr. Jackson

Much work lies behind the consultative document to which my right hon. and learned Friend referred. We shall consider all the submissions and comments made, and they will be taken into account before decisions are taken.

Mr. Soames

I warmly welcome my hon. Friend to his new job. Will he discuss these new services with the architects responsible for designing many of our industrial buildings to ensure that they are far more user-friendly for disabled people, to the advantage of those who would like to employ more disabled people?

Mr. Jackson

I thank my hon. Friend for his welcoming remarks. His comments about the adaptation of buildings and the construction of new buildings that are user-friendly for disabled people are important and we shall pursue them.

Mrs. Heal

Does the Minister recognise that the review that the Department is about to undertake should not reduce the length of courses for disabled people who are on assessment, nor reduce the level of skills of the people who assess them?

Mr. Jackson

The hon. Lady makes an interesting point and I should like to consider it further with her later. This is an important debate which is not yet concluded.

Mr. Conway

When my hon. Friend has had an opportunity to catch his breath, will he consider the work of the Shropshire committee for the employment of disabled people, which does a spendid job in the county promoting the employment of disabled people in not only the municipal sector but private business? Will he take the earliest opportunity to come to Shropshire to see the excellent work that it does in encouraging placement?

Mr. Jackson

I thank my hon. Friend and I shall accept his kind invitation.

Rev. Martin Smyth

In view of some of the concerns expressed in the Department's review of July 1989, will there be any resource implications or will additional funds be made available to implement the recommendations?

Mr. Jackson

We have a good record for expenditure on supporting employment among disabled people. Last year about £400 million was spent on 225,000 people, which is an increase from expenditure of £270 million on 165,000 people. Resources are under constant review, but the record speaks for itself.