HC Deb 07 July 1992 vol 211 cc174-5
13. Mr. Tom Clarke

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment when she next expects to meet the Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation to discuss the employment of people with special needs.

Mr. Michael Forsyth

My right hon. Friend or my noble Friend would certainly consider a request for a meeting, but none has been made.

Mr. Clarke

Should not the Government be using their own initiative and meeting organisations such as RADAR, in which case they would be hearing of people's concerns that every Department, including the Minister's and even the Prime Minister's, is not employing people with disabilities? Is not it disgraceful that this week—the sixth anniversary of the Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1986 being passed —because the Government do not fully implement the Act, people with disabilities are not in responsible positions? May I remind the Government that they are not accepting responsibility for giving jobs to people with disabilities?

Mr. Forsyth

The hon. Gentleman is being a little unfair, uncharacteristically so. He must not assume that we have to have a meeting with every organisation in order to maintain contact. In fact, I have just received a letter from RADAR in which it raised one or two aspects of help for the disabled which arose from our previous Question Time. The Department maintains a close liaison with such organisations.

On the hon. Gentleman's second point, he will know from his own work in this field that there are many organisations concerned with the disabled, which are not backward in coming forward with their views and, of course, the Department seeks to respond to them. The current reorganisation taking place in the employment service is designed in part to respond to representations made to us following the consultation paper that we issued recently.

Mr. Thurnham

Will my hon. Friend bear it in mind that the public sector as a whole is not as good as the private sector at employing disabled people? Will he take specific steps to encourage public sector employers to do better?

Mr. Forsyth

My hon. Friend has a point. It is certainly true that the public sector has not been as successful as the private sector, but I do not think that there is any room for complacency on either side. The employment service uses whatever mechanisms are open to it to try to encourage more help and support for disabled people, but I am sure that my hon. Friend's point will be borne in mind by the organisations in the public sector that could do better.

Mr. Worthington

Will the Minister undertake to examine the problem of youth training for those with special needs because the cost of training such people is legitimately high? At present all over Scotland—and, I am sure, elsewhere—there are signs that in future it will not be possible to meet the costs of the youth training guarantee for those with special needs without taking from elsewhere. Will the Minister consider that and ensure that those with special needs are safeguarded?

Mr. Forsyth

The Government have made the position perfectly clear—the youth training guarantee stands. If the hon. Gentleman knows of specific examples in Scotland where people with special needs or people who are disabled are not having their demands met, he should take them up with the local enterprise companies which are responsible for the delivery of the youth training guarantee. We have made it clear that the youth training guarantee will not fail to be delivered because of a lack of resources. I share the hon. Gentleman's concern that those with special needs should be given priority and should not be left behind. That is reflected in our policies throughout the employment service.

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