HC Deb 13 July 1978 vol 953 cc709-11W
Mr. Terry Walker

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if, further to the reply to the hon. Member for Kings-wood, Official Report, 28th February, Vol. 945, c. 231–33, he will publish the quota figures of "opinion formers" among employers in the private sector.

Mr. John Grant

I am pleased to say that the employers concerned, with one exception, have given their agreement to the publication of their quota figures, which are given below, with the addition of figures for the House of Commons and the House of Lords which can also be regarded as"opinion formers ". In seeking their permission, I also invited them to comment on the quota scheme, including any difficulties which they may have experienced in meeting the quota. The comments below reflect the principal points made in reply to this initiative.

In considering the figures it is important to recognise that only those disabled people who are registered under the terms of the 1944 Act can be counted towards an employer's quota. The percentages in the table therefore relate only to those disabled people who are known by their employers to be registered. However, registration is voluntary, and many disabled employees choose not to register. Likewise, there is no obligation to disclose registration to an employer. Most "opinion formers" indicated that they were employing disabled people who were not registered and that therefore their quota figures did not truly represent their contribution to the employment of disabled people.

The "opinion formers" to whom I wrote suggested that another significant reason why they experienced difficulty in satisfying their quota obligations was the unavailability of suitably qualified disabled candidates for their vacancies. In addition, employers in the newspaper industry commented that a high proportion of their vacancies are restricted to candidates nominated by the printing trade unions under staffing and employment agreements. The employers' ability to satisfy the quota therefore depends to a large extent on the unions being able to nominate candidates who are registered as disabled. I propose to discuss this question with the TUC.

It seems clear from the replies that private sector employers have similar difficulties in meeting their quota as do public employers. The reluctance of disabled people in employment to register and the shortage of suitably qualified disabled people for vacancies are of course valid reasons why some employers are below quota. The Manpower Services Commission proposes to examine this matter carefully in its review of quota at the end of 1979.

At the same time, I was disappointed that a few replies from "opinion formers" assumed that jobs which require specialised or professional staff with high academic qualifications automatically ruled out disabled people. This is a real misconception. Disabled people are able to undertake a wide range of occupations, including those requiring high intellectual ability. Both private and public employers need to employ more disabled people and I am convinced that they could do so despite the very real difficulties outlined above.

Implementation of the guidelines set out in the MSC guide to employers, "Positive

Employer Date to which information relates Registered disabled employees Quota position Percentage
Trade Union Congress 22.5.78 5 3.1
Transport and General Workers Union 20.3.78 27 2.1
Amalgamated Union of Engineering Workers 9.6.78 15.5* 3.4
General Municipal Workers Union May 1978 14 1.7
Confederation of British Industry 5.5.78 6 1.7
National Farmers Union 15.2.78 3 1.3
Engineering Employers Federation 15.5.78 Nil Nil
National Federation of Building Trade Employers 10.4.78 Nil Nil
Conservative and Unionist Central Office 4.5.78 1 0.3
The Labour Party 17.2.78 3 1.6
ATV Network Ltd. 27.1.78 16 0.9
London Weekend Television 14.3.78 18 1.5
Yorkshire TV 15.5.78 14 1.1
Thames Television Ltd. 9.5.78 19 1.1
Granada Television Ltd. 12.5.78 13 1.1
Guardian Newspapers Ltd. 24.5.77 51 2.1
Evening Standard Co. Ltd. 9.1.78 7 0.4
Daily Telegraph 24.2.78 93 3.0
Mirror Group Newspapers Ltd. 14.6.78 94 1.8
Associated Newspapers Group Ltd. 8.6.78 150 3.1
Newsgroup Newspapers Ltd. 20.2.78 36 0.9
The Times Newspapers Ltd. 3.2.78 87 1.4
The Morning Star Co-operative Society Ltd. 3.5.78 6 4.0
House of Commons 28.6.78 7 1.3
House of Lords 28.6.78 4 2.2
* The column headed"Registered Disabled Employees"in the table shows in the case of the AUEW .5 of a decimal place. This is because registered disabled people who are normally employed between 10–30 hours per week count as half a unit of staff for the purpose of calculating an employer's quota percentage. A similar rule applies to the total number of staff employed.

The Express Group was approached but declined to allow publication of its quota figures.