HC Deb 23 February 1999 vol 326 cc275-6W
Mr. Berry

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what assessment he has made of the impact on his Department's policies of the goods and services provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 to be implemented in October 1999. [71277]

Ms Hodge

We are acting to ensure that the Department's policies meet the needs of disabled people and that we comply with our legal requirements. The Department already takes positive steps to make it easier for disabled people to make use of its services. We shall continue to do so, not only by complying fully with new duties in the Disability Discrimination Act but by aiming to exceed them where appropriate.

The Department issued internal guidance recently on mainstreaming which ensures that all new and existing policies and programmes are assessed for any adverse impact not only on disabled people, but on any minority or disadvantaged group. That includes the need to ensure that our policies and their outcomes comply with the law. Where necessary we shall act to remove or reduce the impact on these groups. This complements the guidance "Policy Appraisal for Equal Treatment" which the Cabinet Office issued to all Government Departments in November 1998, and which was signed jointly by the Minister for Women, the Secretary of State for Education and Employment, and the Home Secretary.

The Departmental Board monitors the Department's performance and will publish information on the progress being made in this area, as will other Government Departments.