HC Deb 15 September 2004 vol 424 cc1258-9
6. Julie Morgan (Cardiff, North) (Lab)

What plans he has to help disabled people in Wales. [187924]

The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Peter Hain)

Across Wales and England we are improving access for disabled people to services generally, and in particular conditions at work. From 1 October, employers and service providers will have new duties under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 to remove inequalities.

Julie Morgan

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. Is he aware of the proposal to cut classes in Cardiff for disabled people—namely, adults with physical disabilities, acquired-brain injuries and mental health problems, and the hearing-impaired? Should those cuts not be reversed, and is it not an absolute disgrace that that is the first action of the newly elected Liberal Democrat council?

Mr. Hain

I must say that I was horrified to hear of those cuts, and I agree that it is shameful that the Liberal Democrats have implemented that policy, especially given that their manifesto document, published this week, states: The Liberal Democrats would implement policies to deal with the pressing needs of the many disabled people living in our communities. It seems that this is yet another case of the Liberal Democrats promising one thing in order to get into office, and doing something quite different when they do so—a point that the voters of Hartlepool will, I hope, bear in mind.

Mr. John Bercow (Buckingham) (Con)

Having carefully considered the circumstances of people with disabilities in Wales, can the right hon. Gentleman tell the House what input he and his Department have had into the debate within government about the creation of a single equality Act?

Mr. Hain

We of course made that contribution and discussed the matter with colleagues. The hon. Gentleman will know of the legislation that, subject to pre-legislative scrutiny and consultation, will introduce new rights for disabled people. I hope that he will support it.

Kevin Brennan (Cardiff, West) (Lab)

On the cuts in disabled services mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, North (Julie Morgan), is my right hon. Friend aware that they will also affect Rookwood hospital, in my constituency? Is it not particularly pernicious that the cuts were announced only in late July, yet the budgets for the courses ran from April? Does that not show that, when the Liberal Democrats actually get into power, they cannot be trusted?

Mr. Hain

It certainly shows that one cannot trust the Liberal Democrats, whether they are campaigning to get into power or in power. Indeed, as I understand it, the service at Rookwood hospital to which my hon. Friend refers has helped for 30 years to rehabilitate disabled people. The fact that it is now being jeopardised by a Liberal Democrat council should give everybody pause for thought when considering voting Liberal Democrat in any elections to come.