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Mental Illness: Employment

Volume 456: debated on Wednesday 31 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what measures he is taking to promote the employment within (a) his Department and (b) public sector bodies for whom he has responsibility of people with mental illnesses in line with the advice and codes of practice produced by the Disability Rights Commission. (117086)

In Northern Ireland, Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 already requires public authorities to have due regard to the need to promote equality of opportunity towards people with a disability. These duties ensure that equality issues, including disability, are integral to the whole range of public policy decision making. Public authorities such as the Northern Ireland Office are required to submit equality schemes to the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland and to carry out impact assessments of their policies in certain circumstances.

The Northern Ireland Office is fully committed to the fulfilment of the section 75 obligations on the promotion of equality of opportunity towards people with a disability.

To carry out the disability duties the Northern Ireland Office will:

adopt a positive attitude towards disabled people and their needs;

be open to the possibility of doing things differently;

promote a positive attitude on disability within the workplace—ensure methods used to deliver our policies/services are disability friendly;

provide further information on mainstreaming the new disability duties into decisions and activities early in 2007; and

prepare a disability action plan to show how the N1O proposes to fulfil the disability duties in relation to its functions.