HL Deb 23 June 1981 vol 421 cc959-60

2.45 p.m.

Lord Chelwood

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name of the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress has been made in improving access for disabled people to Government offices in the seventy-one towns for which a grant of £500,000 is available following the Report of the Silver Jubilee Committee on Improving Access for Disabled People, published in January 1979.

The Earl of Avon

My Lords, work has been completed to improve access to Government offices in 39 of the 71 towns listed in 1978. The Property Services Agency expects work to be completed in another six during this financial year and in five more in 1982–83.

Schemes in 14 of the towns have been abandoned because no buildings suitable for adaptation could be identified. Investigations continue in the remaining seven towns.

Lord Chelwood

My Lords, is my noble friend aware that if my mental arithmetic is working, his reply means that three whole years after this admirable project was first introduced about a dozen Government office buildings will still not have been modified? Therefore, is not progress quite excessively slow and is there not a clear case for speeding this up and trying to complete this project—excellent as it is—in this International Year of Disabled People? Finally, can my noble friend give noble Lords an assurance that the original sum set aside for this project will be sufficient without having to be topped up?

The Earl of Avon

My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for his supplementary question, although I think that his mathematics may be a little harsh on me. I share his concern that we should see rapid progress, and the Government are considering taking urgent steps to find solutions for the outstanding schemes. On the financial question, we believe that the money will be enough.

Viscount Ingleby

My Lords, in view of the widespread interest in access for the disabled, will the Minister consider publishing a list of the buildings that are to be altered and the time-scale? Can he also confirm that the National Railway Museum at York, which has extensive projects for disabled people, is included in this scheme?

The Earl of Avon

My Lords, I can see no objection to the first supplementary of the noble Lord. So far as the second one is concerned, I have not got the information here but I shall of course let him know.