serve the civil rights of disabled people, driving out discrimination
and bringing practical benefits to disabled people and the whole
community', said work and pensions secretary Andrew Smith.
Speaking on International Day of Disabled People, Mr Smith said:
'Taken with other measures the government has brought in, it
transforms the landscape of disability rights compared to 1997 and
puts Britain at the forefront of international best practice'.
Minister for Disabled People Maria Eagle welcomed the news and
pointed to the major reforms contained within the draft Bill:
'The draft Bill is a signal that we are not only honouring the
commitment we made to disabled people, but going beyond it.
'It would allow disabled people to challenge more effectively
discrimination in many walks of their everyday lives - such as
renting a home, using transport services or joining a private club.
And an important new measure would help break down institutional
barriers found in the public sector.
'We have developed this draft Bill during the European Year of
Disabled People and are proud that we remain among the leading
countries ensuring that disabled people have comprehensive civil
Bert Massie of the Disability Rights Commission said:
'The DRC warmly welcomes this. The Bill offers the long awaited right
for disabled people to use public transport, it deals with injustices
caused to cancer and HIV sufferers by providing protection from
discrimination and makes it clear that the functions of public bodies
are now covered within its scope.
'The provision for a public sector duty to promote disability
equality similar to that used for race will have seismic implications
in reforming practices and policies across a wide reach of activities
bringing about systemic progress for all disabled people.
'The DRC will work with the government on the Bill in the months
ahead to secure its actual passage as soon as possible.'
New measures announced today include:
- A new positive duty on public bodies to promote equality of
opportunity for disabled people.
- The extension of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) to cover
almost all activities of the public sector, including such
functions as issuing licences.
- Bringing within the scope of the DDA more people diagnosed with the
progressive conditions of HIV, MS and cancer.
- Ending the exemption of the use of transport vehicles from the DDA
duties on service providers. Also, setting an 'end date' by which
all rail vehicles will have to be accessible. [See Note 2]
- Enabling disabled people to challenge discrimination when renting
property and in their dealings with landlords and managers of
- Bringing larger private members' clubs within the scope of the DDA.
- Bringing local Councillors within the scope of the DDA - new rights
not to be discriminated against by their local authority including
rights to reasonable adjustments. [See Editors' Note 3]
The draft Disability Discrimination Bill, mentioned in last week's
Queen's Speech, will amend the existing Disability Discrimination
Act. It will be subject to pre-legislative scrutiny by a
parliamentary committee. The government's priority remains to meet
its commitment to extend rights and opportunities for disabled people
during this parliament.
1. The secretary of state for Work and Pensions published a Written
Statement in the House of Commons today announcing the publication of
the draft Disability Discrimination Bill, which will undergo
pre-legislative scrutiny by a parliamentary committee. The draft Bill
contains measures which would:
i. clarify that the current exemption for transport services extends
only to the vehicles themselves, and create a power to enable that
exemption to be lifted for different vehicles at different times;
ii. extend the Act to cover the exercise of functions of public
bodies, so that it would apply to most of their activities, not just
those which consist of the provision of services;
iii. introduce a new duty on public bodies to promote equality of
opportunity for disabled people, so they would be required to
consider the needs of disabled people as early as possible at every
stage in their policy and decision making;
iv. bring within scope of the DDA private clubs with 25 or more
members, so that such clubs would be unable to discriminate against
disabled members or prospective members or others who have rights to
use such clubs;
v. extend the definition of disability to cover more people with HIV,
MS or cancer, so that more disabled people would benefit from the
vi. require those who manage or let premises to make reasonable
adjustments to their policies and practices for disabled tenants or
vii. allow disabled people to issue a questionnaire in relation to
discrimination complaints, not just in employment cases as now, but
also cases concerning service providers, private clubs, landlords or
public bodies carrying out their functions;
viii. make third party publishers (eg newspapers) liable for
publishing discriminatory advertisements, so that they would be
acting unlawfully if they published a discriminatory job
ix. make clear that insurance provided on group terms to an
employer's staff is covered as a service under the Act.
2. The rail vehicle 'end date' is not contained in the draft Bill
published today but is likely to be added to the Bill at a later
stage. The measure is presently the subject of consultation by the
Department for Transport.
3. The clause relating to councillors is not contained in the draft
Bill published t oday. It is being developed and will be published
4. The draft Bill builds on other steps already taken by the
government, such as:
- setting up a Disability Rights Commission;
- protecting disabled students and pupils against discrimination;
- bringing into force, in October 2004, the duties in the Disability
Discrimination Act (DDA) concerning service providers making
reasonable adjustments to physical features of their premises;
- bringing into force, also in October 2004, major changes to the
employment and vocational training provisions of the DDA, including
ending the current exemption of small firms.
5. The draft Bill introduces further measures proposed in 'Towards
Inclusion', the government's 2001 response to the recommendations of
the Disability Rights Task Force. It also covers measures not
originally proposed by the government such as legislating on private
clubs, introducing a questionnaire procedure into Part 3 of the DDA,
extending the scope of the DDA's provisions on discriminatory
advertisements and bringing within scope of the DDA's definition of
disability more people with MS.