People with Disabilities: Access to Services - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords am 2:33 pm ar 16 Mai 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Baroness Hughes of Stretford Baroness Hughes of Stretford Llafur 2:33, 16 Mai 2024

My Lords, this has been an absolutely extraordinary debate, with powerful contributions from right across the House that have been passionate, challenging and full of insight. I thank all noble Lords who have made their contributions, many from personal experience of living with disability themselves or of having disabled people in their families. Should anyone assume that debates in this House are pedestrian or formulaic, they should read the Hansard record of this debate. I will certainly read it, and I am glad to hear the Minister say that he will, too. I hope that he will take it back to his colleagues, because many of the points made here bear discussion in the ministerial team.

I cannot thank everybody, and it has already been done, but I want to pick out a few themes which are important. We heard powerful contributions about how disabled people feel about how they are treated by the department and their experience of assessments that do not seem to be fit for purpose. I hope that the Minister will take that away. The daily discrimination at every turn in every minutia of daily living, as we heard from the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, and others, and meeting barriers in almost everything that we have to do to get through the day, let alone make our way through life, education and employment—this all needs to be heard.

The pre-eminent importance of inaccessibility to good education, employment and transport, the lack of progress in those areas, despite government commitments and the Minister’s comments, and the Government’s failure to follow through, are causing disabled people and families to lose confidence in whether the Government are serious about this. There are also the negative attitudes towards disabled people, their invisibility in public policy and so much of daily life, and the disastrous and sometimes ridiculous consequences of making decisions without input from disabled people. The example of floating bus stops will stay with me for a long time. However, we did have a welcome challenge at least, that if only the Government would stop sticking doggedly to conventional ways of doing things and think creatively and radically about what modern technology offers, many of these artificial barriers would fall.

Overall, the key message raised in my opening speech and by so many noble Lords is that disabled people must be at the heart of policy and implementation. “Inclusion by design and accessible by all” should be the watchwords. This debate has demonstrated, if anybody needs evidence, the profound difference that it makes to have the voice of disabled people with lived experience in the room, and its benefit.

Motion agreed.