HL Deb 02 March 1987 vol 485 cc433-4
Lord Ennals

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to implement the Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1986.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health and Social Security (Baroness Trumpington)

My Lords, my honourable friend the Minister for Social Security and the Disabled met the local authority associations on 24th February to discuss implementation of the Act. At the meeting it was agreed that Sections 9 and 10 will be brought into effect on 1st April. We are hopeful that Sections 4 and 8 can be brought into operation the same day. We also expect to implement Section 11 during 1987. Discussions with the relevant bodies are continuing on the implementation of the remaining sections of the Act.

Lord Ennals

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for the information which she has given to the House. Perhaps she can say a little more about Sections 5 and 6. Those were sections which caused great interest in your Lordships' House. Does the Minister recall the speech made by the Minister for Health in another place when he said: We should like to bring the provisions"— he was referring to these provisions— into effect in time to benefit disabled young people leaving full-time education in the summer of 1987, that is, by the autumn of this year. We shall be consulting urgently with local authority associations about achieving that".—[Official Report, Commons, 4/7/86; col. 1328.] Are we not slipping on the timetable which was set by the Minister for Health on 4th July?

Baroness Trumpington

My Lords, the resource implications of Sections 5 and 6 of the Act covering disabled school-leavers was also discussed at the meeting with the associations to which I have referred. It was agreed that urgent discussions with the relevant bodies should take place to identify the resource implications with a view to a further meeting between the associations and my right honourable friend in May.

Lord Allen of Abbeydale

My Lords, I should like to ask the Minister about the possibility of implementing Section 7, which is the section concerned with discharge from long-term hospitals. No reference was made to that section in the debate in another place on 17th February. However, is it not a fact that the report of the Audit Commission underlines the imperative need to bring this section into force as soon as possible?

Baroness Trumpington

My Lords, it has also been agreed that there should be discussions at official level to make more realistic estimates of the costs not only of Section 7 but also of Section 3 of the Act. Progress in those discussions will be reviewed at the meeting in May.

Baroness Masham of Ilton

My Lords, may I ask my noble friend the Minister whether the Government have been having consultations with organisations for disabled people?

Baroness Trumpington

My Lords, we recognise that the disability organisations played a significant part in obtaining support for the Act during its passage through Parliament. We intend to consult with the relevant organisations where necessary on implemention of various provisions of the Act at the appropriate stage. Indeed, my right honourable friend the Minister for Social Security and the Disabled has already agreed to discuss implemention of the Act with members of the steering committee established by the interested disability organisations. We hope to arrange a meeting with them shortly.

Lord Ennals

My Lords, can the Minister give an assurance that the resource aspects to which she referred will not hold up the implementation of some of the important clauses? Bearing in mind the statement made by the Prime Minister about the buoyancy of the economy, is it not important that we should do at least as much as we can for disabled youngsters?

Baroness Trumpington

My Lords, my right honourable friend the then Minister for Social Security and the Disabled stated in another place on 4th July 1986 that it would be wrong to impose extra financial burdens on local authorities and on health authorities in order to implement those clauses which have significant resource implications until we can be sure that sufficient resources can be made available. That remains the position.

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