Disability-inclusive Development - Question for Short Debate

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:02 pm on 13th December 2018.

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Photo of Lord Shinkwin Lord Shinkwin Conservative 3:02 pm, 13th December 2018

My Lords, I also welcome this strategy and thank my noble friend Lady Anelay for securing this important debate. I also thank the Secretary of State, Penny Mordaunt, for her leadership on this issue, her ministerial team, DfID itself, NGO partners such as Sightsavers and, of course, our partners in the developing world for the way in which they have come together to make the Global Disability Summit happen and now to develop the strategy.

Although there are a few aspects of the strategy that I would query, I welcome it. It may not extend to anything like 585 pages, but it has substance. Is it not refreshing, noble Lords, to read a document that neither fudges nor says one thing while meaning the opposite? How exciting to read a strategy with a clear sense of purpose and urgency, which recognises that bringing people together in some of the most challenging parts of the world requires clarity, transparency and trust.

The strategy is clear in both its vision and its priorities. With an estimated 1 billion people with disabilities globally, an estimated 80% of whom live in developing countries, the challenge is huge. So the strategy’s vision is bold and ambitious and is worth repeating: a world where all people with disabilities, in all stages of their lives, are engaged, empowered and able to exercise and enjoy their rights on an equal basis with others, contributing to poverty reduction, peace and stability. Its four priorities or “essential outcomes”, as they are described in the strategy, make sense.

I also largely agree with the four strategic pillars for action particularly, as others have mentioned, the focus on inclusive education, given that more than half of the 65 million children with disabilities in low and middle-income countries are not in school. Although my own experience of being excluded from mainstream state schools as a child because of my disability pales into insignificance, I can relate very much to the importance of accessing inclusive and equitable quality education.

In conclusion, I just highlight one other distinctive feature of this document—its confident tone, which its commitment to transparency and visible accountability reflects. That confidence both informs its vision and inspires trust in an ability to deliver. At a time when Parliament has seldom been more divided, on Brexit, this strategy surely reminds us all that transparency, clarity and projecting fact-based confidence are fundamental to bringing people together. For if we do not believe in ourselves, how can we expect anyone else to take us seriously? To its credit, this strategy shows that people should do exactly that.