Fwd Government breaks faith with disabled people, says (UK) Disability Rights C
- The Disability Rights Commission (DRC) has expressed its deep
disappointment and frustration at the Government's failure to include
promised measures to tackle discrimination against disabled people in
its legislative programme for the next Parliamentary year.
The DRC Chairman has written to the Prime Minister to express how
serious this breach of faith will be unless corrected quickly.
The proposed legislation to plug major gaps in the Disability
Discrimination Act (DDA) of 1995, would have provided important new
rights in transport and housing, where blatant forms of
discrimination are still legal. It would have extended protection
from unfair discrimination to more than half a million people with
conditions such as cancer and HIV, including in employment.
It would have introduced a duty on all public bodies actively to
pursue disability equality.
In its 2001 Manifesto, the Government reaffirmed its earlier pledge
to legislate in all these areas. That pledge was in response to a
unanimous report from the Government's Disability Rights Task Force.
The DRC warns today that the Government's failure to deliver on its
Manifesto commitments will undermine its objectives of improved
employment rates and of social inclusion for
disabled people of all ages.
Bert Massie, Chairman of the Disability Rights Commission, said:
"Disabled people will fear this is a betrayal of their rights,
leaving them open to the most blatant forms of discrimination without
redress. Raising awareness and spreading good practice will not work
unless underpinned by the force of law.
"The DRC has to turn away disabled people if the law cannot help
them. The Government has acknowledged the gaps in the DDA and there
is cross-party consensus on the need for change. These unfulfilled
promises will leave disabled people feeling even more frustrated and
"We can only hope that this is a promise delayed not a promise
broken. We urge the Government to work with the DRC and disability
organisations in the coming weeks, to bring to an end the
discrimination that faces so many disabled people - sapping energy,
denying life chances, wasting their potential and making them feel
like second class citizens. We urge the Government to commit,
publicly and soon, to introducing the early legislation needed to
make the 21st century one of hope and opportunity for disabled
From Disability Tribune (August 2002) DAA, 11 Belgrave Road London
SWIV 1RB UK.