Clause 14 - Accessibility Strategies and Plans

Part of Special Educational Needs and Disability Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:30 pm on 29th March 2001.

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Photo of Tim Boswell Tim Boswell Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Innovation and Skills), Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Innovation and Skills), Shadow Spokesperson (Education and Employment) 3:30 pm, 29th March 2001

I have little difficulty with what the hon. Gentleman says: a tremendous amount has been done, and I welcome that. I have no ideological difficulty with attending the Institute of Directors or one or two other places that I could mention; nor do I have a problem with getting support for the provision. In fact, the hon. Gentleman performed a further service to the Committee by making the important point—which was embedded in other contributions—that it is vital to secure the understanding of the sector. I agree entirely that one needs the teachers at the front line, with the governors, LEAs, pupils and parents also engaged in taking matters forward.

A great deal of good work has been done, but we do not have the menu--in either euros or pounds--so it may be more expensive than we think. We must face up to the resource implications, which have to be managed. I hope that at the end of the process we can reach the Government's objectives on disability discrimination. However, I am anxious that we do not nod through a measure that we have not costed. There must be no recriminations because we have had to pay three times as much as we expected, or have had to commit to other priorities at the time. I hope that does not happen.

It is important that Ministers not only will the end—however good it may be—but the means to provide it. In a moment, the Minister will tell us that she is doing a great deal, which I accept and do not want to argue about. Nevertheless, do we know what is needed? Do we know how much the plans cost and can we ultimately sustain them?