HC Deb 22 January 2003 vol 398 cc12-3WS
The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mr. Andrew Smith)

Later this year I plan to publish a draft disability Bill with the intention that it should undergo pre-legislative scrutiny, before being taken forward as part of the Government's legislative programme later this Parliament. This will be a further and very major step to ensure we meet our manifesto commitment on extending rights and opportunities for disabled people.

The draft Bill will include new measures proposed by the Disability Rights Task Force building on the legislation that we have already introduced such as our establishment of the Disability Rights Commission and our new protection for disabled pupils and students. It will also make progress beyond our other plans for extending civil rights protection for disabled people. These include the introduction in 2004 of the Disability Discrimination Act's final duties on service providers to make reasonable adjustments for disabled customers and the laying of regulations later this session to implement the disability provisions of the article 13 employment directive which will significantly extend employment protection for disabled people.

The new measures in the draft Bill will include proposals that we outlined in our document "Towards Inclusion", such as changes to the DDA affecting the public sector, transport and premises, some widening of the definition of disability and more. The Government also intends to cover membership of larger private clubs in the DDA and will consult widely on how and when the practical changes involved would take effect. I will make further announcements in due course.

All these legislative improvements together represent the most significant and far-reaching package of legislative change to protect disabled people against discrimination ever seen in this country.