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Disabled People

Volume 163: debated on Monday 4 December 1989

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To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to improve transport facilities for the disabled.

Our plans are set out comprehensively in the document "Transport and Disability—a Statement of Aims and Priorities".

I pay great attention to my disablement advisory committee, which represents many disabled organisations that perform excellent and independent work.

Is the Minister aware that 6 million disabled people are potential travellers on public transport and that we should do a great deal for them? No disabled person can travel across London by bus because of the steps, bars or barriers, nor can he go down to the Underground. It is absolutely appalling that no disabled person can be allowed down on the Underground because, I believe, of disasters. Is he also aware that in rural areas, as a result of deregulation, the bus services have gone for the cheapest option and, in the main, they do not cater for disabled persons? In the Minister's answer—

What immediate action will the Minister promise as a result of his answer?

As I said, my Department has a great deal of interest and concern in matters affecting the disabled. There have been many changes to benefit disabled people in all aspects of transport, but there is always room for improvement. As I said, I pay great heed to my advisory committee which is very independent. It tells me exactly what needs to be done, and I endeavour to do it.

Will the Minister conduct an inquiry into the transport of the disabled to and from day centres? The special bus that collects my constituent Mark Horrocks takes more than three and a half hours each day for a four-mile journey. Will he give guidance to local authorities about how to improve such grossly inadequate services?

I am not familiar with the details of this case. My hon. Friend is known for his concern and interest in these matters. If he will be kind enough to write to me with the details, I shall be more than happy to see what I can do to help.

When can we expect a definitive statement on the future of the orange badge scheme which grants parking concessions for disabled drivers and passengers? Is any consideration being given to increasing the penalties for abuse?

As the right hon. Gentleman knows, a wide variety of topics related to this issue are being considered. We are endeavouring to prevent abuse so that those who need the orange badge scheme are able to use it, and to do so more effectively. I am considering all the points that he has raised as matters of considerable urgency and I hope to be able to report in the near future.