College for Blind Persons (Manchester)

Oral Answers to Questions — Employment – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 10th December 1970.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Gerald Kaufman Gerald Kaufman , Manchester Ardwick 12:00 am, 10th December 1970

asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether he will consult with the Royal National Institute for the Blind with regard to the establishment in Manchester of a rehabilitation and retraining college for blind people wishing to be placed in employment.

Photo of Mr Dudley Smith Mr Dudley Smith , Warwick and Leamington

No, Sir. Present demand would not justify such a college.

Photo of Gerald Kaufman Gerald Kaufman , Manchester Ardwick

Does not the Under-Secretary of State agree that it is a considerable ordeal for blind people in the north of England to go so far from their homes as London, which is the only place to which they can go for courses of training to rehabilitate them and make them fit for occupations which will normalise their lives? Would he not accept that a college such as this could be a centre for the entire north of England and make a great contribution to helping blind people there to be retrained for jobs which would help them to live normal family lives?

Photo of Mr Dudley Smith Mr Dudley Smith , Warwick and Leamington

I am always very sympathetic to blind people in their extreme difficulties, but I am advised that there is no justification for such a college and, that there is plenty of provision in the country for the rehabilitation and retraining of blind people. There are two centres, one at Torquay and one at Ceres in Fifeshire, and a number of people from the hon. Member's own region are at both of them, and some on the waiting list. But if the situation gets worse I am always prepared to consider the matter further.

Photo of Mr Neil Marten Mr Neil Marten , Banbury

On the rather wider question, can my hon. Friend say what progress is being made in the reduction of the level of unemployment amongst the registered disabled?

Photo of Mr Dudley Smith Mr Dudley Smith , Warwick and Leamington

As I said the last time I answered Oral Questions, my right hon. Friend has asked me to look at this matter especially. We are pursuing it very vigorously, and I hope in due course, probably some time in the new year, that I shall be able to announce something to my hon. Friend.

Photo of Mr Alf Morris Mr Alf Morris , Manchester Wythenshawe

Whilst I appreciate the reply previously given to me by the hon. Gentleman, can he now say what action is being taken under Section 18 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act, 1970, which has to do with the training of those who are responsible for placing disabled people in work?

Photo of Mr Dudley Smith Mr Dudley Smith , Warwick and Leamington

That is rather wide of the original Question, and I should require notice of it, but I shall be very happy to talk to the hon. Gentleman about it.

Photo of Gerald Kaufman Gerald Kaufman , Manchester Ardwick

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the Minister's reply, Mr. Speaker, I beg to give notice that I shall seek to raise the matter on the Adjournment at the earliest possible opportunity.