Letter: Inaccurate costs that deny civil rights to the disabled

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The Independent Online
Sir: At its second reading in March the Civil Rights (Disabilities) Bill was supported by 335 MPs. However, on 6 May a small group of Tory MPs tabled 80 amendments whch effectively killed the Bill. It was later discovered that the Rt Hon Nicholas Scott MP (then Minister for Disabled People) had instructed his department to draft the amendments, claiming the Bill would cost industry pounds 17bn - a figure which disability organisations have researched and found to be grossly exaggerated.

The Government now claims that it will be consulting during the next few weeks with the aim of bringing in fresh legislation in the autumn. However, it would seem that there are no plans to consult on either education or transport - two of the areas included in the Civil Rights Bill.

Many people with disabilities question this consultation process: this latest attempt to get civil rights legislation on the statute book is the 13th occasion in recent years - so why after all this time has the Government decided 'to consult'?

People with disabilities want rights now. They want discrimination in employment to cease and, although it is fair to say that it will not be possible to make all buildings accessible overnight, disabled people want the right of access to choose where they can go without being inhibited by an inaccessible transport system with inaccessible buildings.

The London Labour Mayors Association believes that Roger Berry's Private Member's Bill offers the best solution for improving the rights of people with disabilities living in Britain today and that, at best, any Government consultation will only bring in very watered-down legislation.

Yours sincerely,


Honorary Secretary

London Labour Mayors


Wembley, Middlesex

4 September