Exiting the EU: Disability Rights

The Minister for Women and Equalities Was Asked – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 23rd March 2017.

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Photo of Alan Brown Alan Brown Scottish National Party, Kilmarnock and Loudoun 12:00 am, 23rd March 2017

What assessment she has made of the potential effect on disability rights of the UK exiting the EU.

Photo of Gavin Newlands Gavin Newlands Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Sport)

What assessment she has made of the potential effect on disability rights of the UK exiting the EU.

Photo of Caroline Nokes Caroline Nokes The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

I would, of course, like to add my condolences to those already expressed by colleagues to the families of the victims of yesterday’s attack, and especially to the family of Keith Palmer.

I can assure the House that the Equality Act 2010 and the public sector equality duty, which incorporates a number of EU directives on equalities, will continue to apply once the UK has left the EU. Additionally, we continue to be signatories to the UN convention on the rights of persons with disabilities, which is binding in international law.

Photo of Alan Brown Alan Brown Scottish National Party, Kilmarnock and Loudoun

I thank the Minister for her answer, but she will be aware that a lot of her Conservative colleagues are desperate to do away with many of the regulations. As we go forward post Brexit, will she guarantee that there will be no rush to deregulate and there will not be a reduction in the statutory protections available to disabled people?

Photo of Caroline Nokes Caroline Nokes The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

The hon. Gentleman mentions my colleagues, but I remind him that the Conservative party has a proud history of protecting disability rights. It was under a Conservative Government that we passed the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, which made it unlawful to discriminate against people in respect of their disabilities. The UK is a world leader in support for disabled people, and we are proud of the work that we do to support people with disabilities and health conditions, both in this country and abroad.

Photo of Gavin Newlands Gavin Newlands Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Sport)

There is already a lot of fear and anxiety as this Tory Government have substantially reduced disability support with the powers they already have. How then can we trust this Government’s word? Will the Minister set out exactly which of these rights will be safeguarded following Brexit?

Photo of Caroline Nokes Caroline Nokes The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Our reforms to welfare are about making sure that we give more to those who need it most while encouraging those who can do so to get into work. That is why people with the most severe disabilities have had their payments increased and protected from the benefit cap and the benefits freeze.

Photo of Debbie Abrahams Debbie Abrahams Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Over 160 Members have signed a prayer against the new personal independence payment regulations. The period for praying against those regulations comes to an end on 3 April. A debate has been arranged in the other place next week, but to date the Government have refused to arrange a debate and vote on the Floor of this House. There is a huge democratic deficit, as the regulations will come into force under the negative procedure. Why are the Government refusing to hold a debate on the new PIP regulations in this House?

Photo of Caroline Nokes Caroline Nokes The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

As the hon. Lady will know, the usual channels decide when debates will be held in this place. It is not for me to give such a date today.