HC Deb 18 November 1997 vol 301 cc160-1W
Mr. Burstow

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what assessment his Department has made of the Americans with Disabilities Act; and if officials from his Department visited the United States of America to study the impact of this legislation. [16033]

Mr. Alan Howarth

The Department has not made a comprehensive assessment of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

I recently visited the USA and discussed the effectiveness of the Act with, amongst others: Ronald Drach, Vice Chairman of the President's Committee on the Employment of People with Disabilities and Paul Inasaki, Vice Chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission.

My senior official dealing directly with policy on civil rights for disabled people has also visited for more extensive discussions. Both I and my officials met Paul Miller, a Commissioner from the American Employment Equal Opportunities Commission when he visited London recently. We also receive a range of journals and other publications on the Act.

We are aware of evidence that there have been very significant benefits not just for disabled people but for business from this legislation, particularly in relation to retention of employees who become disabled and to improving access to customers. Research has shown a general acceptance of the principles of the legislation among American employers and it has been found that costs associated with making adjustments were often lower than many employers anticipated. This is in line with experience here.

However, the Act has not yet ended discrimination against disabled people.