§ Mr. Alan Howarth
[holding answer 25 January 1999]: Increasing access to the arts is a key aim for my Department. Our commitment to access and equality of opportunity for disabled people is strong and my Department is keen to ensure that there is adequate information for disabled people on all the activities which we support and fund.
There are already a number of useful guides for people with disabilities, some of which are published by Government Departments. The Department of Health has recently updated "A Practical Guide for Disabled People", which includes details of organisations which can offer advice on access to arts and leisure facilities, tourist accommodation and sports facilities. The Arts Council's publication "Arts and Disability" includes a chapter on access and details of useful contacts, including regional Access Committees, Trusts and voluntary organisations. Regional and voluntary organisations such as "Artsline" in London also offer invaluable advice.
My Department will keep under review the availability of appropriate advice for disabled people in relation to our sectors, taking into account the implications of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and of our new policy initiatives.