Select Committee on Welsh Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses(Questions 60-63)



Dr Francis

  60. Everything you have said is very positive and constructive but, as Ms Morgan said, the tone of the report was very brief and discouraging and it may be in the future that detail could be in there and we should be sounding much more optimistic about overcoming these problems and people will read that and see the Wales Office as something of a role model.

  (Ms Jackson) When we wrote the report we were at a difficult stage in our negotiations with Westminister City Council and English Heritage so it reflected our pessimism which has turned to optimism since.

Mrs Williams

  61. Can I echo what Ms Morgan and my colleague Dr Francis was saying, and ask you, Secretary of State, do you believe now that it was quite unwise to put the sentence in which says, "Meanwhile, wheelchair users can readily visit ministers at their offices in the National Assembly building in Cardiff Bay", because four and a half years ago—and I am concerned that this is taking such a long time—I was a wheelchair user and I started complaining about non-access to Gwydyr House at that time. I am going back to 1998 now. If I were unable to meet a minister if I carried out my duties here at Westminister, I cannot see why I should be expected to go to Cardiff because that would be the only way I would be able to gain access to see a minister. This paragraph is misleading and in my view unhelpful to people with disabilities.
  (Mr Murphy) Yes, I think it could be interpreted the wrong way but I think Alison made it clear that there had been considerable development since that was written by way of optimism in terms of being able to have proper access for wheelchairs. The point now is of course that you could visit us in a wheelchair. We do have facilities which would allow you so to do. Had it been an ordinary office it would be very straightforward, but it is not. The point is, as Ms Morgan said, that we very much getting there now, but I do accept the point about the wheelchair. It was dated at that time because we had not got good news but now things are much better.

  62. You say you have two members of staff with a disability. Are these two members of staff wheelchair users?
  (Ms Jackson) No.

Mr Caton

  63. I very much welcome what you are saying about other people with disabilities, the hearing impaired and people with sight problems. Have any of your officials visited the Shaw Trust building in Dr Francis's constituency where Dr Fitzpatrick works, where they have very imaginatively and very successfully introduced features that allow blind and deaf people to easily use that building? I think it is an excellent example of what can be done.
  (Mr Murphy) Not only have I visited it; I opened it. I do take the point that perhaps Alison or John or whoever might be appropriate could spend a useful afternoon down there having a look at the facilities they have to offer.

  Chairman: Those are all our questions, Secretary of State. It has been a very useful session. I know that Mr Wiggin is looking forward to shadowing you in future and I think it is a very interesting precedent. Thank you very much indeed.

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