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Departmental Disabled Staff

Volume 485: debated on Thursday 11 December 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what conclusions his Department has reached in fulfilment of its duty under section 3.111 of the statutory code of practice of the disability equality duty. (240979)

In Northern Ireland, Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 ensures that equality issues, including disability, are integral to the whole range of public policy decision making. Public authorities such as the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) are required to submit equality schemes to the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland.

Section 49A of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA 1995) (as amended by Article 5 of the Disability Discrimination (Northern Ireland) Order 2006) introduced the ‘disability duties’ in Northern Ireland to reflect changes to disability legislation in Great Britain. In addition to section 75 the Northern Ireland Office is therefore required, when carrying out its functions, to have due regard to the need to:

promote positive attitudes towards disabled people; and

encourage participation by disabled people in public life.

Under Section 49B of the DDA 1995, the NIO submitted a three year disability action plan to the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland which sets out how it proposes to fulfil the disability duties in relation to its functions.

The NIO reports annually to the Equality Commission on its equality scheme and this includes a report on progress against its disability action plan. The annual report from 1 April 2007 to 31 March 2008 has been published and can be found at: __annual_progress_report_1_april_2007_-_31_march_2008.pdf