Civil Rights (Disabled Persons) Bill [Money]

– in the House of Commons at 9:39 pm on 25th April 1995.

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Queen's recommendation having been signified

Motion made, and Question proposed,That, for the purposes of any Act resulting from the Civil Rights (Disabled Persons) Bill, it is expedient to authorise the payment out of money provided by Parliament of—

  1. (a) any expenditure incurred by a Minister of the Crown under or by virtue of the Act;
  2. (b) any increase attributable to the Act in the sums payable under any other Act out of money so provided.—[Mr. Lightbown.]

Photo of Mr Harry Barnes Mr Harry Barnes , North East Derbyshire 10:12 pm, 25th April 1995

I hope that I shall not appear ungrateful for the motion before us. It is required for tomorrow, to allow the Standing Committee that will consider the Civil Rights (Disabled Persons) Bill—my private Member's Bill—to progress.

The Government have been reluctant to table the money resolution. They left it until the last possible moment. Reluctance has been apparent in their whole attitude to the Bill. They tabled the money resolution only because it is part of the custom and practice of the House when someone has been successful in obtaining a Second Reading of a private Member's Bill and it is due to go into Committee. Everything else that they have done has been associated with blocking the Bill. They would be openly blocking the Bill if they did not produce the money resolution that is before us tonight. So they cannot readily and easily be criticised for that. However, they are using other means to hold up the Bill.

On the amendment paper for the Committee's sitting tomorrow, there are already 111 amendments in the name of the Minister for Social Security and Disabled People, who is engaging in a procedure that will make it difficult for the Bill to come out of Committee and appear on the Floor of the House on Friday, which is the last available day when the measure can be dealt with.

Photo of Mr Michael Morris Mr Michael Morris , Northampton South

Order. I was rather hoping that the hon. Gentleman would come back within the confines of the money resolution—[Interruption.] Order. I hope that the hon. Gentleman is aware of how restrictive the money resolution is—or do I have to give him guidance?

Photo of Mr Harry Barnes Mr Harry Barnes , North East Derbyshire

I recognise that we are dealing with a money resolution and that I need to direct my attention to questions about costs. I was just pointing out that the Government have been rather slow in tabling the resolution, which ties in with a host of other approaches to the Bill that they have adopted.

The Government have been misleading about cost. There has not been a cost assessment of the Bill, whereas the cost of the Government's alternative, the Disability Discrimination Bill, has been assessed. Last year, the Civil Rights (Disabled Persons) Bill, which was introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Kingswood (Mr. Berry), was assessed in a peculiar fashion, which concluded that the Bill would cost £17 billion. That was a massively exaggerated figure, which took account neither of phased provision nor of any benefits to business and the considerable tax take. Such tax take must be assessed in relation to the money that would have to spent on the Bill. It is a matter not only of expenditure but of income.

The Civil Rights (Disabled Persons) Bill and the Americans with Disabilities Act have many similarities. The American Act was introduced not by Clinton, but by Bush and there have been many claims about its revenue-raising potential, which need to be considered alongside the money that it requires. The false furore over the costs of the Bill ignores the real benefits to business and society. The disability debate should not be polarised; it should not be split into different political camps. My Bill is modelled on the American Act, which aimed to bring the walls of exclusion tumbling down.

There were also fears about the cost of such legislation in America, but the American experience shows net social and business benefits, increased access to work, cuts in the cost of dependency and boosts to tax take. Disabled people are also consumers, often with untapped disposable income. The Americans with Disabilities Act—

Photo of Mr Michael Morris Mr Michael Morris , Northampton South

Order. The hon. Gentleman really has to confine himself either to access to polling stations or to the disability rights commission and the costs and work of that body. He must confine his speech to those areas. He cannot go into the benefits of VAT, consumer expenditure and so on.

Photo of Mr Harry Barnes Mr Harry Barnes , North East Derbyshire

Part IV of the Civil Rights (Disabled Persons) Bill deals with the provision of goods, facilities and services. In America, the Act resulted in some 200,000 new goods and services. For example, a New, Jersey pizza parlour fitted deaf aids, advertised in the deaf community and doubled its profit.

Photo of Mr Michael Morris Mr Michael Morris , Northampton South

Order. The hon. Gentleman obviously did not hear me clearly enough. It is no good him just carrying on reading the notes about the American Act that he prepared beforehand. He cannot refer to the American Act on this particular occasion. [Interruption.] Order. I ask him again to refer either to the disability rights commission or to access to polling stations.

Photo of Mr Harry Barnes Mr Harry Barnes , North East Derbyshire

I take it that, as the provision of money is linked not merely to access to polling stations and the disability rights commission, I am entitled to mention other matters contained in the Civil Rights (Disabled Persons) Bill, which will require money to be spent. The motion does not state that the expenditure incurred by the Crown will be limited to those two aspects of the Bill. Perhaps I am being told that I can deal with only those two matters because the Disability Discrimination Bill has dealt with the others. Am I allowed to extend the analysis, Mr. Deputy Speaker?

Photo of Mr Michael Morris Mr Michael Morris , Northampton South

The scope of the debate is restricted to the financial aspects of the Civil Rights (Disabled Persons) Bill, not the American Act and what it has done. The debate is purely on this Bill and the two key features of it are the disability rights commission and access to polling stations.

Photo of Mr Harry Barnes Mr Harry Barnes , North East Derbyshire

I do not want to challenge your ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker, with regard to the American legislation. I mentioned it only as an example of how relevant revenues could be raised. I find it surprising, however, that in your ruling you are confining me to discussing the disability rights commission and access to polling stations.

Photo of Mr Michael Morris Mr Michael Morris , Northampton South

Order. The hon. Gentleman does not seem to have taken on board the fact that I am confining him to dealing with spending, not raising, money.

Photo of Mr Harry Barnes Mr Harry Barnes , North East Derbyshire

Money will need to be spent to provide goods, services and facilities, for example, in transport and education, and on access to housing and premises, as that is provided for in the Bill, as well as on the important work of the disability rights commission and access to polling stations. As polling stations often operate within schools, that will add to provision as regards access to premises and new constructions.

The range of expenditure provided for in the Bill is relevant to the provisions of the money resolution. I am pleased that at last we may be able to adopt the resolution. I welcome it, but I am concerned that it has taken us so long to deal with it.

Photo of Mr Harry Barnes Mr Harry Barnes , North East Derbyshire

I seek your protection, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I should be allowed to continue as long as I am in order. According to the Order Paper, 45 minutes is allowed for hon. Members to contribute to the debate.

I grant that the important factor is that we make the decision, just as it has been important all along for us to make decisions and progress with the measure. I shall accede to the wishes of the hon. Member for Chelmsford (Mr. Burns) and conclude my remarks, but I hope that the Minister and Conservative Members will be as succinct as I have been on this occasion when we reach further stages of the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,That, for the purposes of any Act resulting from the Civil Rights (Disabled Persons) Bill, it is expedient to authorise the payment out of money provided by Parliament of—

  1. (a) any expenditure incurred by a Minister of the Crown under or by virtue of the Act;
  2. (b) any increase attributable to the Act in the sums payable under any other Act out of money so provided.