HC Deb 02 March 1999 vol 326 cc628-9W
Mr. Berry

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales 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. [71267]

Mr. Jon Owen Jones

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 the new duties in the Disability Discrimination Act but by aiming to exceed these requirements where we can.

In December 1998, the Department briefed all its senior management 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 adverse impact on these groups. The guidance, "Policy Appraisal for Equal Treatment", which the Cabinet Office has issued to all Government Departments, was circulated at the same time.

In addition, the Government of Wales Act 1998 gives the National Assembly of Wales a duty to have regard to equality of opportunity for all people in the conduct of its business and in the exercise of its functions. The Assembly will have to report annually on what arrangements it has made to promote equality of opportunity in exercising its functions and how successful they have been. We have received advice from the National Assembly Advisory Group and the Standing Orders Commission on how these duties should be given effect and the Department is in contact with relevant statutory and voluntary bodies in Wales regarding the development of these arrangements.

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