Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Schedule 2. — (Provisions for Determining Right to and Amount of Benefit.)

Part of Orders of the Day — Ministry of Social Security Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th June 1966.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Michael Alison Mr Michael Alison , Barkston Ash 12:00 am, 17th June 1966

I should like to add just a few words to the powerful case made by my hon. Friend the Member for Essex, South-East (Mr. Braine) and by the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, South (Mrs. Lena Jeger). I have been looking at the figures given in an interesting article i a the Ministry of Labour Gazette, which many hon. Members will have read, analysing the breakdown of the national unemployment figures, which totalled 317,000 at the last count.

This very interesting analysis showed Mat nearly half of those on the ordinary national unemployment register, about 150,000, could be broken down in turn into groups which were very broadly referred to as people who were unemployable. About 150,000 people were described specifically in the Gazette as those predominantly disabled, elderly or both for whom the scope for training or other action is limited.

Of that global figure of about 150,000 elderly or disabled, it was reckoned that at least 60,000 were disabled. This represents a very large percentage of those who are covered by the figure of 1·5 per cent. unemployment in our full employment society. It is essential that this group of people should be encouraged to get on to the disabled unemployment register if they are not already on it. It may be that they are, but we do not have the facts. I would stress that it is a much more difficult problem than I believe many people appreciate to guide the disabled other than the blind to the sort of work which they may be able to do.

It is quite interesting to look at some of the special facilities which are provided for the blind as a particular group of the disabled. If one looks at the special provisions made for the blind, quite apart from the provisions of the Bill, and I am thinking specifically in terms of employment, one sees there are innumerable special channels through which the blind can be found satisfactory work—in light engineering, shorthand and typewriting, telephone operation, physiotherapy, the monitoring of the radio, as was referred to by Lady Hamilton in that interesting article in that magazine which has been mentioned.

A great many opportunities have been deliberately opened up to the blind. Indeed, I was talking to a constituent of mine the other day who was in trouble as a blind person in finding employment. This person, in fact, although he was on the blind register, had such a degree of what is technically called residual sight that he was able to conceal from many of his employers, until quite a long time after he had started work, the fact that he was blind. Yet this person was on the register and open to all the special treatment the blind receive.

We ought to give a specific boost to those who are in a wider category of disablement, those who suffer from the various kinds of arthritis, the victims of sclerosis, those who have had amputations and suffer under other surgical disabilities—perhaps, above all, to those who suffer behaviour and mental in-capacities. They all need more encouragement given to them to get on the register, and for those disabled in terms other than those of blindness, for that sort of work which many of them could do, particularly in modern circumstances with the sedentary work involved in some of our manufacturing and other processes, besides, of course, office work, much more should be done by way of training facilities.

I hope that the right hon. Lady will consider sympathetically what seems to me a bipartisan approach to the disabled, and to encourage the development of the technique of analysing a bit more carefully the nature and degree of disability. It is notable that blindness, although it has been for long an easily identifiable disability, has many gradations within it. Some people classed as blind have so nearly full sight through what is called residual sight that they are not anything like as badly disabled as others far less favourably treated.