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Disabled Persons

Volume 774: debated on Monday 25 November 1968

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30.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity what proportion of private employers with a staff of over 20 employees is failing to meet their statutory obligation to employ their quota of 3 per cent. of disabled persons; and what action she proposes to take against them.

The figure on 31st May, 1968, the date of the latest count, was 53.7 per cent. Employers with less than their quota are not committing an offence but are subject to restrictions on the engagement of fit workers. They are contacted regularly to remind them of their quota obligations and action is taken as the circumstances warrant where failure to comply with the provisions of the Act is revealed.

Since the figure of unemployed amongst the disabled is four times above the national average, does not my hon. Friend agree that his Answer reveals a highly unsatisfactory and undesirable situation where half our employers are flouting their obligations? Although I accept his assurance that he is reminding employers of their obligations, with the present lamentable results, will he consider taking special action and if so, what kind of action?

I do not think that it is accurate to speak of employers flouting their obligations. The great majority go out of their way to cooperate. But it is not always possible for registered disabled persons who are unemployed to match up to the vacancies that exist, either because their particular disability makes them unsuitable, or because they lack the required skills or because of one of a variety of other reasons.

31.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity what proportion of Government employees is disabled; and what action she intends to take if it is below the statutory requirement of 3 per cent.

On 1st October, 1967, the proportion of registered disabled persons employed in Government Departments was 2.95 per cent. My officers lose no opportunity of bringing unemployed registered disabled people to the notice of Government Departments which have suitable vacancies.

Is my hon. Friend aware that the figure he has quoted is in agreeable contrast to that concerning private employers, but is a sad decline from the figure of 5 per cent. employed by the Government some 10 years ago? Will he tell the House whether this is due to a change in Government policy or simply to apathy?

No, the number of disabled has declined as a number of men who were wounded in the wars have passed away. I can assure my hon. Friend that the Treasury has written to all Departments reminding them of the Government's commitment to meeting the 3 per cent. quota whenever possible.