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Wales Council For The Deaf

Volume 14: debated on Monday 30 November 1981

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asked the Secretary of State for Wales what sum was allocated from the Welsh Office to the Wales Council for the Deaf in this current period.

None. A very recent application from the council for the funding of a special project is being considered.

I object strongly to the Minister's indifferent and uncaring attitude. Is he aware that this is the International Year of Disabled People? Does he realise that 120,000 people are suffering from deafness in Wales? What criteria does the Welsh Office apply for sorting out grants? Does its criteria amount to raffles, or what are they? Is he merely turning a deaf ear to the council's representations for aid to help it assist the deaf in Wales?

The hon. Gentleman has allowed himself to become carried away in an especially obnoxious manner. We have given the fullest consideration to the council's application. Government assistance is normally restricted to contributions towards the headquarters' expenses of the organisations that are national in scope. The Wales Council for the Deaf is a regional association of the Royal National Institute for the Deaf. Its sphere of interest is restricted mainly to South-East Wales. We have suggested to the council that it collaborates with other bodies such as the British Association for the Deaf, the British Association of the Hard of Hearing and the National Deaf Childrens Society, all of which operate in Wales. The Welsh Office suggested to the council that it should bring a project forward for consideration. We have given the application the fullest possible consideration. There is a great deal that we do for the deaf in Wales.

May I ask the Minister to reconsider the attitude of the Welsh Office towards the council? It is in no party spirit that I make that request. I think that I speak for all hon. Members on the Opposition Benches, with the possible exception of the hon. Member for Wrexham (Mr. Ellis), when I urge the hon. Gentleman to reconsider the council's application. I understand that its activities are confined largely to South-East Wales, but that is the area where the largest proportion of those who are unfortuate enough to be deaf is concentrated. I ask the Government to do everything that they can to assist the council. I am sure that somewhere in the Welsh Office there is some money that can be used to assist it.

May I assure the right hon. Gentleman that the issue is not the availability of money but the appropriateness of a grant in this instance. We have given the application every consideration. We are considering the council's latest approach. A number of hon. Members wrote to me and I believe that some of them may have already received my reply, in which I outlined what we are doing for the deaf in Wales. I know that you will be interested to learn, Mr. Speaker, that we have contributed £200,000 towards the Institute for the Hard of Hearing Research to enable research to be carried out at University hospital in Cardiff. We shall be contributing a further £50,000 per annum over the next five years.