'I won't quit,' says Nicholas Scott

Click to follow
The Independent Online
(First Edition)

NICHOLAS SCOTT, the minister who talked out a backbench Bill to extend the civil rights of the disabled 'because it would cost too much', yesterday brushed aside calls for him to quit, writes Paul Routledge.

Asked if he would resign, he said: 'As long as I have the confidence of the Prime Minister and my colleagues, certainly not. I have enjoyed doing my job as minister for disabled people for the past seven years.'

Downing Street has indicated that Mr Scott has the full support of John Major, who sanctioned the parliamentary manoeuvring that killed off the Civil Rights (Disabled Persons) Bill last Friday.

Roger Berry, Labour MP for Kingswood, who was the Bill's sponsor, asked: 'How much has a minister got to mislead the House of Commons before he is asked to resign?'

Mr Scott repeated the Government's objections to the Bill: that it would cost industry pounds 17bn immediately and then pounds 1bn a year.

'However sympathetic one is, you cannot impose that sort of cost on British business and industry without having widespread consultation with them on the impact that it is likely to have on their operation.'

The Government has promised to bring forward its own proposals for tackling discrimination following six months of public consultation. These include measures to tackle job discrimination, access to buildings and services, and formation of a national advisory body.

'This is a package of measures which will be practical, affordable and workable, and will make a great deal of difference to the status and lives of disabled people,' Mr Scott said.

But powerful voices in the disabled lobby - including Mr Scott's own daughter - continue to press for his resignation.

Jane Campbell, of the British Council of Organisations of Disabled People, said: 'We've completely lost faith. We cannot do business with this man.'

Mr Scott's daughter, Victoria, who is parliamentary officer for Radar, a charity for the disabled, has also criticised his role in helping kill off the Bill.

Earlier this month Mr Scott admitted misleading the House of Commons about his department's role in preparing a series of Conservative backbench amendments aimed at wrecking the Bill's chances.

Groups representing Britain's 6.5 million disabled people called for Mr Scott to resign.