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Disability Legislation

Volume 410: debated on Monday 18 August 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to introduce legislation on disability; what representations he has received over the need for such legislation; and if he will make a statement. [130208]

I have been asked to reply.On 1 July, Parliament approved Regulations which will make significant changes to the employment provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act. Ending various employment and occupational exemptions will bring within scope of the Act over one million additional employers and around seven million jobs, in which 600,000 disabled people already work. These Regulations implement the main employment recommendations of the Disability Rights Task Force that were supported by the Government in our document "Towards Inclusion". As we have said, we shall be laying further Regulations in due course—such as on occupational pensions—which will make further changes to the DDA's employment provisions. All these regulations will come into force in October 2004.Later this year we will publish a draft Disability Bill which will contain proposals on other measures recommended by the Task Force and outlined in "Towards Inclusion", such as changes to the DDA affecting the public sector, transport and premises, some widening of the definition of disability and covering membership of larger private clubs.We intend that the draft Bill should undergo pre- legislative scrutiny. We continue to receive a wide range of representations from disability organisations, business, trade unions, employers, disabled people and others on civil rights legislation for disabled people.