HC Deb 27 July 1998 vol 317 cc5-6
5. Mr. Gordon Prentice (Pendle)

What steps he is taking to promote the disabled access logo for (a) restaurants, (b) hotels and (c) other tourist facilities. [50771]

The Minister for Film and Tourism (Mr. Tom Clarke)

Encouraging greater access to tourist facilities for all, including those with special needs, will be a core strand in the new tourism strategy, which we shall publish later this year. I will take on board the disability rights White Paper published last week by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Employment. Obviously, signs which show access would be a positive contribution.

Mr. Prentice

I thank the Minister for that reply. Mr. Roy Coulton, a constituent of mine, who is disabled and who is a doughty campaigner for disabled rights, will be encouraged by it. He told me of his personal experience of reading advertisements for restaurants and hotels in the press, and then turning up to find that there was no way of getting into the restaurant in his wheelchair. He came up with the simple idea of requiring restaurants, hotels and other facilities to put the little wheelchair logo alongside their advertisements. It seems very simple, and I do not think it requires another inquiry or report to encourage restaurateurs and others to do that.

Mr. Clarke

My hon. Friend will know from my experience in disability over many years that I agree entirely that what happened to his constituent was totally unacceptable. The Disability Rights Commission that the Government intend to introduce will put an end to such practices. I also believe—as do the widening access working group, the tourism for all group and all others feeding into my right hon. Friend's Tourism Forum—that it is not only wrong to discriminate against disabled people in any sense, but commercially unwise. Disabled customers pay and disabled people in employment are well worth the money that they are being paid. My hon. Friend should accept that, and know that the Government will look closely at those important matters, and follow what our friends in tourism are telling us.

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