Disabled People

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Work and Pensions – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 15th October 2001.

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Photo of David Willetts David Willetts Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions 2:30 pm, 15th October 2001

The Secretary of State is right: it is important for us to do all that we can to help disabled people into work. Will he confirm that the number of people claiming incapacity benefit is now at its highest for three years? There is a clear upward trend.

Does the Secretary of State agree that it is no good expecting even more medical tests when the Government cannot deliver the medical tests that are required already? Will he confirm that the last Minister for disabled people, whom he caused to be sacked, was right when he said this?

"Seventy-three per cent. of those tested were recommended by the doctor for re-testing within 18 months."—[Official Report, Standing Committee D, 15 April 1999; c. 786.]

Talking about tests after three years is not really relevant, when the Government cannot even deliver the tests that are recommended after 18 months. How many medical tests are there now, within the 18 months recommended?

Does the Secretary of State agree that the right way forward is to deliver the conditions that already exist in regulations and are not being properly enforced, rather than causing unnecessary distress to disabled people by changing regulations yet again when the current ones cannot be made to work?