§ Mr. John Grant
asked the Secretary of State for Employment what steps he has taken to secure increased observance of the quota for the employment of disabled people by public sector employers since May 1979; and what steps he will now take.
§ Mr. Peter Morrison
[pursuant to his reply, 27 January 1981, c. 305]: Since May 1979 all employers have been regularly reminded of their obligations regarding the employment of disabled people. I acknowledge the importance of public sector employers setting a good example in this connection and have continued, with their agreement, to publish figures relating to their employment of registered disabled people in the November issues of the Employment Gazette. Copies are available in the Library.
However, quota figures do not give an accurate picture of the employment of disabled people, since they relate only to the employment of those people who voluntarily register as disabled. A decline in the number of registered disabled people and an increasing reluctance amongst disabled people to register, seriously restrict the ability of employers in both the public and private sectors to achieve the 3 per cent. quota. The scheme is, therefore, no longer fully effective and the Manpower Services Commission is reviewing it. The commission hopes to be able to make recommendations to my right hon. Friend within the next few months on the future strategy for helping disabled people to get and keep suitable jobs.
Meanwhile, new legislation regarding the employment of disabled people has been introduced in the Companies Act Regulations 1980 which requires all companies employing over 250 people to state, in their annual directors' reports, their policy towards employment of disabled people. Although the regulations do not apply to public sector employers the Government are drawing their attention to them.
Irrespective of any legislative provisions, it will be necessary to continue drawing attention to the needs and abilities of disabled workers through education and persuasion. I therefore fully support the MSC's "Fit for Work" campaign, which aims to encourage employers in 473W both the public and private sectors to provide more and better job opportunities for disabled people, whether registered or not.