§ 3. Mr. Thurnham
To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what representations she has received about the employment of people with disabilities; and if she will make a statement.
§ The Minister of State, Department of Employment (Mr. Michael Forsyth)
We have received a number of representations about the help that we provide for people with disabilities, including the sheltered placement scheme, the new placing assessment and counselling teams and the training provision available through TECs.
§ Mr. Thurnham
I congratulate my hon. Friend on his appointment. Will he make it one of his first priorities to examine closely why the public sector falls below the private sector in giving jobs to the disabled? Why does the BBC have one of the worst records of any public organisation, employing only 71 registered disabled among its 25,000 employees? Will he ask the BBC to give free television licences to the disabled until it starts to co-operate with his Department?
§ Mr. Forsyth
I am sure that the BBC will have broadcast my hon. Friend's message, which I hope will be received. As for the differences in employment practice between the public and private sectors, it is true that, in general, the quotas are least well met by the public sector. But I should say, in defence of both sectors, that the number of people registered as disabled is about 1 per cent. of the work force and the quota is 3 per cent., making it a mathematical impossibility for employers to achieve their legal obligation.
§ Mr. Tom Clarke
Does it not concern the Minister that in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Paisley, South (Mr. McMaster) last week, the Prime Minister confirmed that there was not one disabled person working at No. 10 Downing street? Before the Government lecture the BBC or anybody else, will they put their own house in order?
§ Mr. Forsyth
I shall see that the hon. Gentleman's comments are drawn to the attention of the Prime Minister.