Lord Ashley of Stoke calls on government to legislate for the independent living of disabled people, ahead of his question in the Lords on Tuesday. Skip related content
Legislation to help disabled people gain their independence has been the objective of many MPs and peers. So far, none of us have dealt directly with the question of independent living.
My Bill on this subject is designed to extend the rights of disabled people and impose duties on authorities. It is comprehensive, tackling the thorny issues of self-assessment of their rights, the imposition of duties on local authorities, individualised budgets, minimum outcomes, and housing. It is designed to ensure that authorities have no doubt about the responsibilities they bear when the Bill is passed.
It is a 'New Deal' for Britains disabled people. They have long suffered neglect and even ostracism and it is time they came in from the cold.
The Bill has an interesting history in that it was passed by the House of Lords three years ago.
When it was introduced into the House of Lords for the first time, there was virtually no opposition. But when it went from the Lords to the Commons, in accordance with normal procedure, it fell out of time. At any rate, that was the official excuse. There were in fact other Bills to be discussed before mine, but I am sure that some means could have been found of passing the Bill if the government supported it.
Last year, it was reintroduced into the House of Lords and passed its third reading. Again, it went to the House of Commons, but one must have doubts about the governments attitude insofar as ministers spoke favourably about it but then left it marooned on the iceberg of lack of Parliamentary time.
Now, for the third time it has passed its third reading in the House of Lords and awaits the pleasure of the Commons. There can be no doubt that unless the government changes its mind, the Bill will be stranded yet again.
Nevertheless, ministers have been warned that this Bill will not go away. It is a comprehensive Bill which is designed to deal with a wide variety of problems and really can provide independence for disabled people.
The whole trend of events is in our favour as disabled people become vociferous in their demands and public support grows. It can become a bitter conflict if the government are not careful so the wisest thing they can do is accommodate the Bill, enact it into law and begin the long hard journey of full independence for disabled people.
This can be an historic development for disabled people and as they exercise their newly found rights, they can develop their confidence in the legislative process and put an end once and for all to the discrimination against them.
Yahoo, 5th July 2009