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Disabled People

Volume 167: debated on Monday 12 February 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what measures he is taking to improve mobility of the disabled.

We want all concerned to recognise and cater for the needs of this important sector of the community. Our plans are set out comprehensively in the document "Transport and Disability: A Statement of Aims and Priorities".

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that answer. He will be aware that access for disabled people to London's buses and the Underground leaves a great deal to be desired. What has been the response to his Department's initiatives on the design of buses to enable access for the disabled? Will he undertake to ensure that in the massive rebuilding and refurbishment that is under way on London Underground, access for the disabled is kept as a top priority?

As ever, I have worked closely with the disabled persons transport advisory committee which was set up by my Department in 1985 to advise us on such matters. It has produced guidance for the elderly and disabled on the use of buses in particular. My hon. Friend will be grateful for the knowledge that I am about to impart to him: most of the advice that has been received is about simple, cheap and effective ways to help people, and they are being widely adopted. His point about London Underground is well understood. My hon. Friend the Minister of State is working hard on the matter and we shall do what we can to meet my hon. Friend's point.

Will the Minister consider the wretched state of Stratford station in east London? Is he aware that it is a busy junction of British Rail, Central and Docklands light railway lines? The tripod barrier makes it almost impossible for anyone to pass through, whether disabled or not. Then there is almost a half-mile walk to the platform. The waiting-rooms have not been decorated since the second world war and the lavatories do not work. Such conditions would not be tolerated in a station in the west end of London, so why should the people of east London tolerate them?

Clearly, the hon. Gentleman knows the stations in his constituency better than I do. I understand that Stratford is due for redevelopment shortly.

I am sorry, but the hon. Gentleman is wrong. Stratford station is due for redevelopment and access for the disabled will be taken into account when that redevelopment takes place.

Is my hon. Friend aware that most buses and minibuses are still largely inaccessible to severely disabled people? Can he give the House an idea of the progress being made in bringing new designs into use?

My hon. Friend speaks with considerable authority on matters relating to the disabled. He is a member of my advisory committee, and who better. I confirm that I am working extremely hard, with all the Ministers in my Department, to ensure that access for the disabled is a high priority.