We need your support to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can continue to hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Disabled People: Elections

Women and Equalities – in the House of Commons on 20th December 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Damien Moore Damien Moore Conservative, Southport

What steps the Government are taking to support more disabled people to stand for election.

Photo of Penny Mordaunt Penny Mordaunt The Secretary of State for International Development, Minister for Women and Equalities

We are undertaking a programme of work with disability organisations to help political parties better support disabled candidates. In the meantime, to ensure that support is in place for the local elections next year, we have launched the £250,000 EnAble fund, which is an interim fund to support disabled candidates.

Photo of Damien Moore Damien Moore Conservative, Southport

In May, my right hon. Friend made a commitment to work with political parties to help support disabled candidates. Can she give a further update on how that work is going?

Photo of Penny Mordaunt Penny Mordaunt The Secretary of State for International Development, Minister for Women and Equalities

We are making good progress. We have met a number of political parties and disability organisations, including Disability Rights UK and Mencap, and those meetings will continue into the new year. It is very important that political parties support all candidates; by sharing good practice and doing this work in a much more methodical way, I hope that all political parties will be able to do so in the coming years.

Photo of Chris Elmore Chris Elmore Opposition Whip (Commons)

The Secretary of State is absolutely right that political parties must play their part in allowing more people with disabilities to run for office. During the Ask Her To Stand campaign, Members took it upon themselves to invite women into the House to be able to understand its functions. Does she think that it could be an option to consider inviting disabled constituents into this place, as well as council chambers and devolved Administrations, so that Parliament can become more open? People could then get a better understanding of this place and not think of it as some sort of isolated institution that they could never possibly serve in.

Photo of Penny Mordaunt Penny Mordaunt The Secretary of State for International Development, Minister for Women and Equalities

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely correct. We should be doing that, and I encourage all political parties to do so. People who support various political parties are looking at replicating organisations such as Women2Win, which we have in the Conservative party, and at what further support and schemes can be put in place to encourage people from a whole range of backgrounds and situations to be able to run for office. We need to make the Chamber a much more diverse place.

Photo of Maria Miller Maria Miller Chair, Women and Equalities Committee

We do not just want disabled people to stand for election; we want them to be elected to this place, yet this workplace here takes so little account of disabled people’s needs. Would it not be better to have more predictable working hours and voting patterns, similar to practices in other Parliaments, to encourage more disabled people to stand for election and to help all Members with caring responsibilities?

Photo of Penny Mordaunt Penny Mordaunt The Secretary of State for International Development, Minister for Women and Equalities

My right hon. Friend is absolutely right. I remember previous conversations I have had with you, Mr Speaker, in a former role I held. It is not just the practice here; it is actually the fabric of the building. With the refurbishments, we have an opportunity to ensure that anyone who has the talents to come and work here is able to do so. I know that hon. Members, including some who are sitting on the Government Front Bench today, have disabled people working in their constituency offices very successfully, but when they have tried to allow people to work in this building, it has proved impossible.

Photo of Lisa Cameron Lisa Cameron Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Mental Health)

Merry Christmas to all, when it comes. I would particularly like to thank you, Mr Speaker, on behalf of the all-party group for disability, for expanding your internship programme to ensure that people with disabilities gain experience of working in this House and overcome barriers to politics. What more can be done to use this type of excellent leadership to promote internships for people with disabilities internationally?

Photo of Penny Mordaunt Penny Mordaunt The Secretary of State for International Development, Minister for Women and Equalities

I thank the hon. Lady for her question. She is right to pay tribute to Mr Speaker for the internship programme, which has been very successful and is very much appreciated. I hold the Women and Equalities brief alongside my role in the Department for International Development. That provides an opportunity, because there is huge synergy between what we in the UK are doing to meet our own global goals and meeting our responsibility to the developing world. The work initiated by the global disability summit is gathering huge pace and momentum around the world to enable other countries, whether through new legislation or sharing best practice and ideas, to make progress for their own disabled communities.