The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities - Human Rights Joint Committee Contents

Memorandum submitted by DWP

  Confirm in more detail the steps taken by Government to consult on their proposals for reservations or interpretative declarations, including which persons or groups were consulted and when, and the substance and outcomes of any of these consultation exercises. It would be particularly helpful if you could identify which disabled people or disabled people's organisations were consulted, when they were consulted and what they were asked, and what their responses were.

  If consultation was limited to Equality 2025, I would be grateful if you could confirm what steps were taken to consult Equality 2025 and the outcome of that consultation. For example, was Equality 2025 asked to consider specific proposals for any reservations or interpretative declarations and if so, what was their response?

  1. Further to Jonathan Shaw's appearance before the JCHR on 18th November, you have requested further information about discussions with disabled people about the proposals for reservations and interpretative declarations in respect of the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People. I note that in referring to the Minister's evidence to the Committee you suggest that the Minister told the Committee that the Department had consulted disabled people and their organisations on progress towards ratification of the Convention, and possible reservations or interpretative declarations including through consultation through Equality 2025. On a point of clarification, the terms the Minister used throughout his evidence were discussed/discussions. Your use of the terms consult/consultation implies formal consultation procedures.

  2. Engagement with organisations of and for disabled people has taken place in a variety of forms as work on ratification has progressed.

  3. Prior to Anne McGuire's Parliamentary Statement on 6th May 2008, discussions about ratification were broad updates in the course of various general meetings that the Minister and officials had with organisations of and for disabled people, and with Equality 2025.

  4. Anne McGuire's statement was circulated to a number of organisations of and for disabled people, the EHRC and Equality 2025, providing them with information which they could follow up if they chose.

  5. Subsequently Equality 2025 requested meetings with a number of Departments and members of Equality 2025 met official/s from: the Ministry of Defence (MOD) on 23rd June; the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) on 2nd July; and the Home Office on 23rd July specifically to discuss their proposed reservations and the reasons for them.

  6. The outcome of these meetings was that:

    a. Ministry of Defence agreed that it would discuss the wording of its proposed reservation with ODI and consider ways of presenting it to explain clearly the policy rationale behind the position adopted.

    b. Equality 2025 would provide DCSF with advice about the proposed education reservation and provide a form of words for an interpretative declaration. Following the meeting with DCSF, members of EQ2025 met the Council for Disabled Children (see paragraph 10 below) and SCOPE and, offered a form of words to DCSF.

    c. ODI forwarded the text of the proposed Home Office reservation and interpretative declaration to Equality 2025 on 24th July for its consideration and provide comments if appropriate.

  7. Equality 2025 also met an official from the Department of Health (DH) on 24th June to discuss compatibility issues relating to the treatment of people with mental health conditions which that Department was then considering. It was agreed that Equality 2025 would have further meetings with DH if that Department concluded that there was a need for reservations/interpretative declarations. As the Committee will be aware, DH has concluded that a reservation or interpretative declaration is not necessary.

  8. Following Anne McGuire's statement, ODI officials had meetings (at the request of those organisations) with Disability Action (in Northern Ireland) on 25th June and with SCOPE on 2nd September. At both these meetings Mrs McGuire's statement was discussed in detail.

  9. At a meeting with organisations for disabled people on 26th June 2008, when the UN convention was one of six items on the agenda Mrs McGuire and officials outlined the position with regard ratification and referred to some of the possible reservations and interpretive declarations being sought by eg the Ministry of Defence and DCSF, and the principle of progressive realisation. The group asked whether there was anything that they could do to help progress things and the Minister suggested they might like to talk to some of the Departments which were considering reservations or declarations. Organisations attending that meeting were Leonard Cheshire, MENCAP, MIND, RADAR, RNIB, RNID, and SCOPE.

  10. Jonathan Shaw had a meeting with organisations of disabled people on 29 October 2008, when the Convention was one of three items on the agenda. In that discussion the group expressed their concerns relating to UK ratification of the Convention. Organisations which attended the meeting were Disability Awareness in Action, the Alliance for Inclusive Education, UK Disabled Peoples Council (UKDPC), National Centre for Independent Living (NCIL), Spinal Injuries Association, People First and the UK Advocacy Network.

  11. DCSF has regular meetings with the Council for Disabled Children (CDC), and has discussed its proposed reservation/interpretative declaration with that body as well as with Equality 2025. The Convention was discussed in general terms at DCSF's meeting with the CDC on 8th July 2008 and following that meeting the CDC sent DCSF a revised form of wording. Organisations which attended the 8th July meeting were: Afasic; Alliance for Inclusive Education; Association of Educational Psychologists; Barnardo's; The Children's Society; The Children's Trust; Council for Disabled Children; EDCM; Kids; NAS; NDCS; Out and About; a Parent representative; Scope; SEBDA; Standing Commission on Carers; Sunfield School; Together for Disabled Children; and TreeHouse.

  12. The ODI has had, and continues to maintain, information about the Convention, and progress towards ratification on its public website.

previous page contents

House of Lords home page Parliament home page House of Commons home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2009
Prepared 4 January 2009