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Volume 124: debated on Tuesday 15 December 1987

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To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what action has been taken to ensure full participation in the Handynet programme of the European Economic Community and the availability in Britain of information from the database;(2) what action he is taking to ensure that Britain plays a leading role in the development of Handynet and that opportunities will exist for full use to be made of the information that it provides;(3) if he is planning to carry out an assessment of the value of the Handynet programme of the European Economic Community and British participation in it;(4) what is the Government's policy towards the second action programme of the European Economic Community to promote the social and economic integration and integration of people with disabilities and the role which Handynet is to play in that programme.

The Handynet project is concerned with establishing a computerised information system for disabled people within the European Community. It is being developed by the Commission and information is not yet available to enable an informed assessment to be made of its value to disabled people in the United Kingdom. The future development of Handynet is being considered as part of the proposals for a Community second action programme in favour of disabled people. The Government would like to see work on Handynet proceed, but in our view its practical implications and cost-effectiveness require further study before any part of the system is introduced on an operational basis.Apart from our concern about Handynet, the Government have some reservations on the proposed arrangements for the management and evaluation of the Programme. Otherwise we are broadly in favour of the Commission's proposals.