Peers revive blocked Bill on disabled rights

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Indy Politics
THE Government's nightmare on disabled rights began all over again yesterday, as peers revived an emancipation Bill repeatedly - and controversially - blocked by ministers in the Commons, writes Andrew Gilligan.

The veteran disability campaigner Lord Ashley, reintroducing a modified Civil Rights (Disabled Persons) Bill, insisted it would eventually reach the statute books - a process begun yesterday, as the Lords gave it an unopposed second reading.

The Bill would enshrine new rights of disabled access to employment, public facilities and transport. Ministers remain opposed to so comprehensive a law, making it likely it will again be blocked in the Commons.

Yesterday the Minister for the Disabled, Nicholas Scott, said he would ask each government department to produce its own measures instead. Lord Ashley said that piecemeal rights were not sufficient, but their entry into the debate was a sign that the pressure created by the earlier, abortive Bills had softened ministers' attitudes.

Ministers' claims that any comprehensive measure would cost pounds 17bn or more to implement was denied by disability campaigners, who said that they had removed any tight timescales for implementation from the Bill. But Mr Scott said: 'Whether it is phased in or implemented quickly it is still a cost which British business will have to meet. I believe it is excessive, and our approach is better attuned to British society.'