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Hansard 14: Column 397-413 ...
Hansard 14: Column 397-413

Peers from all parts of the lords served notice on the government they would seek to legislate to compel local authorities to keep a separate register of people who were both blind and deaf in order to plan and provide services.

During committee stage of his Deafblind Persons Bill, Lord Ashley said the estimate of 40 deafblind per 100,000 people was based on average numbers identified across a number of local surveys in the 1980s and 1990s. But some recent surveys had found a higher incidence.

'Many local authorities still claim that they have few or no deafblind people in their areas. Alternatively, they say that they do not know the number. That is not good enough', said Lord Ashley.

For the government, Lord Burlinson said the amendments were unnecessary because authorities already had a duty under section 1 (1) of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 'to inform themselves of the number of persons in their area to whom section 29 of the National Assistance Act 1948 applies. People who have a permanent and substantial disability clearly fall within the scope of section 29 of the National Assistance Act 1948'.

But Lord Morris, the UK's first minister for the disabled, who introduced the 1970 Act, said the department had not monitored the adequacy of registration by local authorities. The system clearly was not working.

Lord Ashley, encouraged by peers in all parts of the house, said that if the government did not change its attitude, he would press his amendments to a vote on third reading of the Bill.

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