HC Deb 06 March 1998 vol 307 cc798-9W
Mr. Pendry

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what decision he has made on the future of the National Advisory Council on Employment of People with Disabilities. [33693]

Mr. Alan Howarth

Our Disability Rights Task Force is currently considering how best to implement the Manifesto commitment to comprehensive and enforceable civil rights for disabled people and, in particular, the role and functions of a Disability Rights Commission (DRC). To ensure appropriate advisory structures are in place which will facilitate a smooth passage of responsibilities to the DRC when formed, I have decided that the National Advisory Council on Employment of People with Disabilities (NACEPD) should not be reconstituted when members' current appointments cease on 31 March 1998. The duty in the Disabled Persons (Employment) Act 1944 to have NACEPD will accordingly be repealed by a statutory order laid before the House today.

This will enable the National Disability Council (NDC) to advise on its own initiative on employment discrimination issues and ensure that the Council can advise Government on all matters relating to the elimination of discrimination against disabled people. Additionally, I have decided to establish a non-statutory advisory body to provide the Government with independent advice on employment, self employment and training programmes and services for disabled people.

These changes have the full support of both NACEPD and the NDC, and I would like to take this opportunity to record my thanks and appreciation for the important contribution made by current and past members of NACEPD. Their willingness to work with officials and Ministers over many years has done much to help improve employment prospects for disabled people.