Disability-inclusive Development - Question for Short Debate

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:19 pm on 13th December 2018.

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Photo of Lord Collins of Highbury Lord Collins of Highbury Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs), Shadow Spokesperson (International Development) 3:19 pm, 13th December 2018

My Lords, I too thank the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, for initiating this incredibly timely debate. My noble friend Lord McConnell referenced the UN’s 2030 agenda. Disability is referenced specifically in the SDGs relating to education, growth and employment, inequality, and accessibility of human settlements, and that is key to delivering this strategy. Education is fundamental to ending the poverty, discrimination and exclusion faced by disabled people in developing countries, yet it is estimated that in most countries disabled children are more likely to be out of school than any other group of children.

Nor should we forget the older population. In developing countries, people over the age of 60 account for at least 43% of the population living with disabilities, compared with 38% globally. Raising awareness of the experience and rights of older people with disability requires data and evidence about what happens throughout a person’s life course. Can the Minister tell us how DfID is backing the work of the new UN Statistical Commission Titchfield City Group on Ageing, which is developing standardised tools and methods for producing data disaggregated by age and ageing-related data?

The 2018 disability strategy, which has recently been published, recognises the economic potential that can be unlocked by tackling discrimination and exclusion. Of the 1 billion people with disabilities, 80% live in developing countries. Economic growth has the potential to be the engine to drive change, but growth without jobs, inclusion, healthcare, education and human rights simply will not deliver on the SDGs or, for that matter, see the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

As the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, said, the strategy is an action point from the first Global Disability Summit held in July. I was very pleased to participate in a very small way in that summit, and I thank the Minister for facilitating that. It brought together not just Governments but civil society and the private sector, and of course it was co-hosted by Kenya. We should not forget the important role of civil society. It is not just a question of raising awareness among Governments; faith groups and trade unions also have an important role. Certainly, following on from the Rana Plaza disaster, trade unions played a key role in trying to help the injured and disabled, who were facing really terrible conditions, back into work.

However, as the noble Baroness said, to be effective and deliver lasting change for people with disabilities, DfID needs to set out clearly how it will implement the strategy long term and how it will measure change in the lives of people with disabilities, and by when. Can the Minister tell us how often DfID will update its delivery plan, which accompanies the strategy? We need to ensure—I hope that he will be able to reassure us on this point—that adequate human and financial resources are in place to implement all of the commitments set out in the strategy. That is key. However, I very much welcome the Government’s commitment and the Minister’s involvement in this initiative.