BRITISH COUNCIL OF DISABLED PEOPLE
OFFICIAL SUBMISSION ON DRAFT
Author : Andy Rickell, Director, British
Council of Disabled People (BCODP)
BCODP believes the draft Bill is too
weak, in particular because :-
1. The definition of "disability"
in the original Act is not based on the Social Model of Disability;
2. The Bill continues to allow discrimination
against disabled people in many areas of life;
3. Disabled People's human rights
are not protected;
4. The ability of disabled people
to enforce their own rights continues to remain very limited.
1. BCODP is the one UK national
organisation which is entirely run and controlled by disabled
people and whose voting membership is entirely made up of organisations
run and controlled by disabled people. Our over 120 member groups
have about 300,000 disabled members. We are the national voice
of the disabled people's movement and led the campaign for anti-discrimination
legislation in the eighties and nineties.
2. BCODP regards the current Disability Discrimination
Act 1995 as so seriously flawed a piece of law that it should
be repealed and replaced by legislation which offers comprehensive
and enforceable civil rights for disabled people. It is particularly
weak in the areas of :-
- the definition of "disability"
and hence who is covered - the definition is not based on the
Social Model of Disability;
- the weak and inaccessible means
of legal redress for disabled people;
- the Act's low precedence.
3. Our comments on the draft Disability Bill
should therefore be viewed in the light of the above. In general
we support the measures insofar as they extend the scope of anti-discrimination
law. However we have problems with the following issues :-
4. The proposed specific extension
to the meaning of "disability" is a further proof that
the general definition is unhelpful and excludes many disabled
people who clearly suffer discrimination. The current definition
requires proof of a minimum level of impairment, whereas this
law should be about tackling discrimination (based on the Social
Model) arising from any impairment associated with the individual.
One suggestion is therefore that the definition of "disability"
should be changed to remove any requirement as regards extent
of impairment, and by doing so it will also automatically cover
the specific impairments mentioned in this Bill.
5. The right to free movement should
be a basic right. The accessibility of all transport vehicles
and associated services should cease to be exempt from the Part
3 provisions forthwith, apart from the accessibility of existing
transport vehicles for which definite and early end-dates should
be given (no longer than 10 years).
6. The proposed justifications for
discrimination based on "reasonable" assumptions about
disabled people and health and safety issues and consent grounds
will prolong and embed discrimination. On health and safety,
it should be a balance between the rights of the disabled person
to equality and the rights of others to health and safety, not
a complete derogation. On consent, allowing a reasonable assumption
of inability to consent is unfair, because current discriminatory
attitudes in society include negative assumptions about the competence
of all disabled people. Instead the law should state what would
be acceptable as regards enabling the consent of a disabled person
(which requires the least effort on the disabled person's behalf).
7. Prison issues - Disabled prisoners
should have their rights met in a dignified manner, which may
have implications for the accommodation provided as well as reasonable
adjustments in other areas.
8. Letting of premises - The landlord
should be obliged to normally give consent to adjustments to premises
and the cost of such adjustments should be borne by the taxpayer
in order to improve the housing stock. A register should be kept
of all such adjusted premises for the purpose of re-letting adjusted
premises to future tenants for whom the adjustments enable accessibility.
Extra costs borne by a landlord or manager in respect of a tenant/occupier's
impairment in excess of reasonable adjustment costs should be
spread over all rental/service charges and not specifically chargeable
to the tenant on whose account they arise. A definite end-date
should be given for the removal of the small dwellings exemption.
9. Disabled councillors - This proposal
should be extended to include all elected or appointed public
offices eg Parliament, NDPBs, magistrates, school governors etc.
in order to enable the full and fair participation of disabled
people in public and civic life.
10. To show what disabled people
really want to see in new legislation, the national disabled people's
movement (including the UK Disabled People's Parliament) have
produced the Disabled People's Rights and Freedoms "Bill".
The full text of this can be obtained from our website - www.bcodp.org.uk.
11. Particular proposals contained
within this "Bill" which go beyond existing legislation
and which have not been already mentioned above include :-
- Indirect discrimination is covered
- All goods and services provision
is included without exception
- All employment is included without
exception, including voluntary work
- All forms of educational provision
is included, and segregated provision is automatically discriminatory
- All qualifications, exam bodies
and standard setting agencies are included
- All public physical environments,
built and natural, are to be accessible
- All health care is included
- All housing is included, including
new private housing
- The right to communicate is fully
supported by whatever means is appropriate
- Basic rights are specifically emphasised
in disabled people's terms including those of life, freedom of
movement (including an end to institutionalised forms of provision
for disabled people), social and political participation including
self-organisation, independent living, sexuality, choice and control
over our own lives, bringing up our own children, privacy and
freedom from media intrusion, to express an opinion and to be
heard, independent advocacy (including legal representation),
and freedom from disablist humour and behaviour
- That the taxpayer has a responsibility
to meet the costs of "reasonable adjustments" to the
extent that they are judged "unreasonable" on cost grounds
- A disabled person should have access
to affordable and appropriate legal representation to assert or
defend their rights under anti-discrimination legislation, and
that the remedy should match the discrimination suffered
- An end to pre-birth actions which
discriminate on the grounds of disability or impairment.
12. Finally, we want to see the Disabled Persons
(Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1986 fully implemented.
The outstanding sections, particularly 1, 2, 3, 4(b) and 8(except(1))
are a necessary part of improving disabled people's rights.
13. We have seen the National Centre for Independent
Living (NCIL)'s written submission, and support its comments around
the right to independent living.