Oral Answers to Questions — Disabled Persons (Ministerial Responsibility)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 12th November 1970.

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Photo of Mr Neil Marten Mr Neil Marten , Banbury 12:00 am, 12th November 1970

asked the Prime Minister if he is satisfied with the co-ordination between Ministers concerning the problems of the disabled.

Photo of Mr Laurie Pavitt Mr Laurie Pavitt , Willesden West

asked the Prime Minister if he will now designate one Minister to be responsible for the needs of the disabled.

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

I have been asked to reply.

My right hon. Friend is satisfied with the existing arrangements for co-ordination.

Photo of Mr Neil Marten Mr Neil Marten , Banbury

While there may well be Departmental co-ordination over the disabled, will the Government consider having more Ministerial co-ordination, and possibly appointing one Minister to pull together all the 12 Departments which are responsible for various aspects of disabled people, so that we can see more satisfactory action for the disabled?

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

I think that the arrangements for inter-Departmental co-ordination work well and I do not think that a single Minister would help: that arrangement might create confusion rather than make things easier. I believe that this is also the view of the Disablement Income Group.

Photo of Mr Laurie Pavitt Mr Laurie Pavitt , Willesden West

Since the last Administration could work effectively with a Minister of Sport, which is very important, and not go through a number of Ministries, would the right hon. Gentleman reconsider this idea of one Minister? It is not only a question of co-operation between 12 Ministers: on research, there are three Ministries involved, and now they must decide what to do with the £12 million cut in research announced by the Chancellor.

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

We are anxious to do all we can to ensure that our policies are best for the disabled but the problems of the disabled cover the whole range of human life and the whole range of Government Departments. I do not think that a single Minister would help.

Photo of Mr Alf Morris Mr Alf Morris , Manchester Wythenshawe

May I press the right hon. Gentleman on the fact that there were 12 Departments of State involved in framing the recent legislation? Is he aware that Ministers and their officials had to achieve miracles of rapid co-ordination so that we could make progress? Would he agree that there should now be one Minister who is responsible for all Departmental activities in this deeply sensitive field?

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

I respect the hon. Member's motives in this, but I do not think, as a matter of administration, that the administration would be improved by having a single Minister.

Photo of Mr Lewis Carter-Jones Mr Lewis Carter-Jones , Eccles

Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that, where there are the most severely disabled people, who can be helped by means of technology to earn a living and who also have yet to overcome the obstacles of being severely disabled, there should be an automatic liaison between the Departments to make sure that their activities are co-ordinated?

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

I should be happy to consider that suggestion.