HC Deb 23 July 1999 vol 335 cc696-7W
Mr. Key

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he will make a statement on his policy on the employment of disabled people in the armed forces; [88368]

(2) how many registered disabled people work in (a) civilian and (b) uniformed posts in the Ministry of Defence; and if he will make a statement. [88367]

Mr. Doug Henderson

[holding answer 28 June 1999]: My Department and its agencies employ some 3,780 civilian staff who have declared a disability or a long-term health condition in response to disability monitoring surveys. This represents some 3.7 per cent. of the total civilian workforce.

Data about registered disabled people are no longer requested in surveys because the register of disabled persons ceased to have effect with the introduction of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. We fully recognise the valuable contribution disabled people can make towards the achievement of defence objectives and, as part of our efforts to increase their representation in our civilian workforce, we have a three-year programme of action in place aimed at improving our performance as an employer of people with disabilities.

Members of the Armed Forces are exempt from the employment provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act. Disability or a history of disability is not compatible with the need for a combat effective fighting force, able to undertake a full range of military operations anywhere in the world. Service personnel disabled during the course of duty are, depending on circumstances, allowed to continue to serve as long as such service will not undermine overall combat effectiveness. This approach reflects the Services' duty of care to the individual and allows them to benefit from the individual's experience and ensure a return on their training investment.