Monitoring the implementation of the Convention

Following the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in June 2009, the Commission has been working with parliamentarians to promote, protect and monitor the implementation of the Convention.

Working with Anne Begg MP, Andrew George MP and Peter Bottomley MP, the Commission has gained information from various government departments on the steps they have taken towards meeting their obligations arising from the Convention.

The Commission will continue to work with parliamentarians to monitor progress towards implementation of the UN Convention to ensure it becomes a reality for disabled people.

Parliamentary questions

Business, Innovation and Skills

Q: Anne Begg

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what steps his Department is taking to implement its obligations arising from the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in respect of (a) Article 24 on Education, (b) Article 27 on Work and Employment and (c) other articles of that Convention.

A: John Hayes (Minister of State (Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning) Business, Innovation and Skills)

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) overall mission is to build a dynamic and competitive UK economy by creating the conditions for business success; promoting innovation, enterprise and science; and giving everyone the skills and opportunities to succeed. The work of BIS must reflect this. We are therefore wholly committed to the obligations set out within the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and to improving outcomes for disabled people.

BIS will contribute to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Report in 2011, setting out what the Department is doing to meet our obligations and how implementation is being achieved.

A number of strategies and programmes already exist and/or are being taken forward by BIS which serve to support the various rights and freedoms set out in the numerous Convention Articles, examples from across our sectors include:

  • The Skills Investment Strategy 2010-11 sets out how we will continue to support provision which meets particular equality needs-for example investing in further education and skills training for learners with difficulties and/or disabilities remains a priority, and in the UK we have a continuing commitment to be inclusive and equitable by maintaining opportunities for all learners.
  • Next Step provides a universal offer of information and advice about learning, work and careers for all those in and out of employment in England. It has been fully operational from August 2010. Next Step provides targeted support-by phone, online or face-to-face-to those with specific barriers to getting into and on in work, including overcoming wider obstacles to progress, such as employment rights, health, transport, personal finance issues, child care and financial support for learners. BIS is ensuring that the service is well placed to meet the needs of people with learning disabilities, and specialist support is available to help people with the full range of disabilities.
  • Work is ongoing to implement the Diversity in Apprenticeships pilots with the Department for Education to increase the critical mass of learners in non-traditional occupations.
  • In England, disabled students in higher education (HE) are supported by the Government via the institution they attend and individually through disabled students' allowances which are available to help students in HE with the extra costs they may incur on their course because of a disability (including an ongoing health condition, mental health condition or specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia).
  • BIS is helping businesses and individuals to prepare for and deliver a successful 2012 games; and that as a result of the games there are businesses better able to deliver other major sporting, cultural and entertainment events. Further to encourage businesses to become more accessible the BIS and the UK Office for Disability Issues commissioned a report "2012 Legacy for Disabled People: Inclusive and Accessible Business" setting out the opportunities that disabled customers bring. The initiative focused on improving the way businesses engage with disabled customers.
  • As part of its work to promote STEM careers, the BIS and Department for Education funded STEMNET works to ensure equality of access for all, including those covered by disability legislation. While the duty to ensure wide access falls principally to schools, STEM ambassadors and others design and support activities and enrichment material in a way that allows young disabled people to fully appreciate how science can be a part of their lives and careers.
  • The work of BIS is also supported by a programme on implementing the requirements and provisions in the most recent equality legislation in the UK, the Equality Act 2010.

More detailed information about BIS and its contribution to supporting the rights and freedoms of people with disabilities will be available in the UK Report to the UN Disability Committee when it is published in the summer of 2011, co-ordinated by the Office of Disability Issues.

Cabinet Office

Q: Peter Bottomley

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what steps his Department has taken to ensure that its activities are compliant with the provisions of Article 29 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on participation in political and public life.

A: Mark Harper (Parliamentary Secretary (Political and Constitutional Reform), Cabinet Office)

The Government are keen to ensure that disabled people are supported to participate in political and public life and that the electoral process is accessible to all electors. This reflects our commitment to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and in particular the obligations set out in Article 29.

This is why the Cabinet Office has made an early commitment as part of our coalition document to introduce extra support for disabled people who want to become MPs, councillors or other elected officials. We are currently looking at the detail of how best to support disabled people who want to enter political life. In working up detailed policy proposals, we will draw on the evidence set out by the cross-party Speaker's Conference and involve the expertise of disabled people and disabled people's organisations at an early stage.

There are a number of provisions in legislation which are specifically intended to support disabled electors to vote at elections. These include provision that, on application to the presiding officer, disabled voters in polling stations may cast their vote with the assistance of a companion.

The Electoral Administration Act 2006 ("EA Act 2006") and associated legislation also contain measures aimed to make the voting process more accessible for disabled electors. Returning Officers are required to display an enlarged version of the ballot paper in polling stations and to provide upon request at polling stations a large hand-held sample copy of the ballot paper for the assistance of visually impaired voters. Returning Officers must also ensure that each polling station is supplied with a tactile voting device which is designed to enable blind and partially sighted voters to cast their vote independently without revealing their voting intentions to a third party.

Electoral officers are also required to make information and documents about the electoral process available to electors in other languages and formats, including Braille and audio format.

Local authorities have a statutory responsibility for designating polling places and under the EA Act 2006 have an obligation to carry out a full assessment of polling places at least every four years to ensure that, so far as it is practicable, all venues are accessible to electors who are disabled. This should mean that polling places are regularly checked for accessibility, and consideration given to making reasonable improvements where practicable.

The EA Act 2006 allows certain prescribed persons, e.g. a local councillor, or 30 or more local electors, to make representations to the Electoral Commission to review the local authority's decision.

Disabled electors may choose to vote by post as an alternative to voting in a polling station. The law allows an Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) to dispense with the requirement for postal vote applicants to provide a signature if the ERO is satisfied that the applicant is unable to do so due to the elector being disabled.

Communities and Local Government

Q: Andrew George

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps his Department is taking to implement obligations under Articles 9, 11 and 19 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in relation to his Department's policy responsibilities.

A: Grant Shapps (Minister of State (Housing and Local Government), Communities and Local Government)

The Department for Communities and Local Government is committed to the UN convention on rights of persons with disabilities and to improving outcomes for disabled people. The Department is currently further considering its responsibilities against the expectations of the convention, and the UK report to the UN next year will describe how implementation is being achieved.

A number of measures exist or are being taken forward by DCLG which support various convention articles, for example:

  • Part M (Access to and use of buildings) of the Building Regulations sets out a series of requirements to ensure that reasonable provision is made to meet the needs of disabled people where building work is undertaken in both commercial and residential buildings. In order to support delivery of more accessible and adaptable housing the Lifetime Home Standard will remain an important element of the Code for Sustainable Homes.
  • The allocation legislation provides that people who need to move house on medical and welfare grounds, including grounds relating to a disability, must be given 'reasonable preference' (i.e. priority) for social housing.
  • Home Ownership for people with Long-term Disabilities (HOLD) is a shared ownership scheme, to help those whose needs are not met elsewhere.
  • The Disabled Facilities Grant provides the funding to help disabled and older people to make adaptations so they can carry on living in their own homes.
  • The spending review 2010 announced that the reform of the council housing finance system will build in the resources needed to carry out future disabled housing adaptations required in the council housing stock.

Defence

Q: Peter Bottomley

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps his Department is taking to ensure his Department's activities are compliant with the provisions of Article 27 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with disabilities on work and employment.

A: Andrew Robathan (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans), Defence)

The armed forces were exempted from the employment provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA). The continuing need for this was reviewed during the development of the recent Equality Bill. It was concluded that the exemption was still required and it has accordingly been replicated in the Equality Act 2010. A reservation on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was entered accordingly.

For our civilians, the Ministry of Defence has policies in place to help enable disabled employees to maximise their potential and to work on an equal basis with their colleagues. The Department is a member of the Employers' Forum on Disability.
 

Education

Q: Andrew George

To ask the Secretary of State for Education what steps his Department is taking to implement obligations under Articles 7, 23 and 24 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in relation to his Department's policy responsibilities.

A: Sarah Teather (Minister of State (Children and Families), Education)

The Department for Education is committed to the UN convention on the rights of persons with disabilities and to improving outcomes for disabled children and young people. The UK Government will report to the UN Committee in July 2011, setting out how implementation has been achieved across Government.

We are determined to raise the achievement and wellbeing of children with special educational needs (SEN) and disabled children. We are aiming to publish a SEN and Disability Green Paper. The Green Paper will consider how we can achieve better educational outcomes and life chances for disabled children and young people and those with SEN-from the early years through to the transition into adult life and employment. The Green Paper will seek to make radical improvements to the entire SEN and disability system for disabled children and young people. It will explore issues such as school choice, early identification and assessment, funding systems and family support in order to make life better for children with SEN and their parents.

We have carried out an open 'call for views' exercise and we intend to engage directly with disabled children, young people and parents of disabled children as part of the Green Paper consultation process.

Environment Food and Rural Affairs

Q: Andrew George

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps her Department is taking to implement obligations under Article 11 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities regarding humanitarian emergencies in relation to her Department's policy responsibilities.

A: Richard Benyon (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Natural Environment and Fisheries), Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

It is the responsibility of local responders, including the fire brigade and the police service, to ensure that in accordance with the requirements of article 11, appropriate provision for the protection and safety of persons with disabilities is in place during situations of risk arising from emergencies.

To assist responders with this, a range of key government publications relating to the UK's response to emergencies include advice and guidance on humanitarian assistance for those groups that require support, such as children, young and elderly people and those with disabilities.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Q: Peter Bottomley

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department has taken to ensure its activities are compliant with the provisions of Article 32 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on international co-operation.

A: Jeremy Browne (Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is committed to promoting and protecting human rights for all people without discrimination on any grounds. We strongly support the rights of disabled people as set out in the UN Convention on the

Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and play an active role in our international work by encouraging governments to sign, ratify and implement the Convention. In support of this we are currently funding a project in Europe to develop practical guidelines and checklists to assist governments and non-governmental organisations on the implementation and monitoring of the Convention. In India we are funding a project which promotes implementation of the Convention through the integration of disability into health, employment, information technology and rural development policies.

At the UN, we continue to play a leading role in advancing disability rights, including through our membership of the Human Rights Council and our support to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, which is currently preparing a study on the role of international co-operation to promote implementation of the Convention.

Health

Q: Andrew George

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps his Department is taking to implement obligations under Articles 10, 15, 17, 19, 20, 25 and 26 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in relation to his Department's policy responsibilities.

A: Paul Burstow (Minister of State (Care Services), Health)

Like every other country that has ratified the convention, the United Kingdom is required to report to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities about what it has done to implement it. The Office for Disability Issues (ODI) is responsible for coordinating the UK Government's work on the convention, including the UK Government report which is due to be submitted to the UN Committee by July 2011.

The Department is working with the ODI to involve stakeholders in the implementation, monitoring and reporting processes. For example, we have worked with stakeholders to facilitate workshops in the past few months and will feed their input to the ODI reporting process.

Home Office

Q: Peter Bottomley

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps her Department is taking to implement the Government's obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities set out in (a) Article 15 on freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, (b) Article 16 on freedom from exploitation, violence and abuse, (c) Article 18 on liberty of movement and nationality and (d) Article 22 on respect for privacy.

A: Nick Herbert (Minister of State, Justice)

The Home Office takes the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) very seriously, recognising the commitment that Government have made to equality of rights for disabled people. The Department is currently further considering its responsibilities against the expectations of the convention (specific examples are provided as follows), and the UK report to the UN next year will describe how implementation is being achieved.

The coalition programme for Government included a specific commitment to "promote better recording of hate crimes against disabled, homosexual and transgender people, which are frequently not centrally recorded".

In support of this commitment, and Article 16 of the UNCRPD, Home Office Ministers recently supported a proposal to extend the Annual Data Requirement (ADR) - a list of all requests made to all 43 police forces in England and Wales under the Home Secretary's statutory powers-to cover all five strands of 'monitored' hate crime including disability. It is intended these data will, subject to the technical consultation and checks on data quality, be collected from April 2011 and should be published in late 2012.

The Department is working to ensure that it enables persons with disabilities to enjoy their rights to liberty of movement, to freedom to choose their residence and to a nationality, on an equal basis with others, as set out in Article 18 of the UNCRPD, by means of its duties as specified in domestic legislation. A reservation for immigration functions was lodged when the UK ratified the convention to ensure that the convention did not inadvertently create new rights in a way that could undermine immigration control or our ability to protect public health. There is an ongoing government review to assess the continued need for this reservation.

Justice

Q: Peter Bottomley

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what steps his Department is taking to implement the Government's obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities set out in (a) Article 12 on equal recognition before the law, (b) Article 13 on access to justice, (c) Article 14 on liberty and security of the person, (d) Article 21 on freedom of expression and opinion and access to information and (e) Article 22 on respect for privacy.

A: Jonathan Djanogly (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (HM Courts Service and Legal Aid), Justice)

The Ministry of Justice is committed to the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities and to improving outcomes for disabled people. The UK Government will report to the UN Committee in July 2011 setting out how implementation has been achieved across Government.

A number of measures exist or are being taken forward by MoJ which support various Convention Articles, for example:

  • The aims and principles of the Mental Capacity Act 2005, which came into force in October 2007, are in line with those of the UN Convention and the Act's measures are supportive of many of the Convention's requirements;
  • The support provided to disabled people who go to court, e.g. through provision of BSL interpreters, hearing loop systems, Braille signage, visits to court to enable a person to familiarise themselves prior to court hearings, provision of information in alternative formats upon request; special measures to assist certain vulnerable witnesses give evidence in criminal proceedings;
  • The Hate Crime Strategy (jointly with Home Office) aimed at reducing hate crime, including disability hate crime, supporting victims and bringing offenders to justice;
  • The framework for the management of prisoners with disabilities which aims to ensure that all prisoners, with reasonable adjustment, have access to all aspects of prison life.

Transport

Q: Andrew George

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps his Department is taking to implement obligations under Article 9 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities regarding accessibility in relation to his Department's policy responsibilities.

A: Norman Baker (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Regional and Local Transport), Transport)

Department for Transport officials are working with officials at the Office for Disability Issues on preparing a report to the UN on what the UK is doing to implement the UN convention on the rights of persons with disabilities. The report, which will be published next year, will set out what the Department is doing to meet its obligations under article 9 of the convention.

Women and Equalities

Q: Anne Begg

To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities what steps the Government Equalities Office is taking to implement its obligations arising from the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in respect of (a) Article 5 on Equality and Non-discrimination, (b) Article 6 on Women and Disability and (c) other Articles of that Convention.

A: Lynne Featherstone (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Equalities Office)

The Government Equalities Office (GEO) takes its obligations under the UN convention on the rights of persons with disabilities (UNCRPD) very seriously, recognising the commitment that Government have made to equality of rights and improving outcomes for disabled people.

In their equality strategy, 'Building a Fairer Britain', published on 2 December 2010, the Government committed to address the causes of inequality and promote equal opportunities for all. The strategy is available in alternative formats. It includes addressing the specific barriers experienced by disabled people, working closely with the Office for Disability Issues (ODI) which leads on this topic.

For example, the GEO is working closely with the Cabinet Office and the Office for Disability Issues to take forward the Government's commitment to introduce extra support for disabled people who want to become MPs, councillors or other elected officials. In drawing up proposals, we have taken account of the evidence set out by the cross-party Speakers Conference and involved the expertise of disabled people and disabled organisations.

The GEO works across Government to promote equality and leads on equality legislation. The Equality Act 2010 provides protection from discrimination and harassment for people with protected characteristics which include gender and disability. We will introduce a new public sector Equality Duty in 2011 and we are working closely with ODI on this: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my hon. Friend, the Minister for Disabled People (Maria Miller) on 10 November 2010, Hansard, column 344W.

The equality strategy also commits the UK to set a good example through our implementation of UN conventions on equality and periodic reporting, including UNCRPD. The UK Government will report to the UN in July 2011 setting out how implementation has been achieved across Government. GEO officials are working with officials at ODI in preparing the report.

Work and Pensions

Q: Anne Begg

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps his Department is taking to implement its obligations arising from the UN convention on the rights of persons with disabilities in respect of (a) Article 8, (b) Article 12, (c) Article 19, (d) Article 27, (e) Article 28 and (f) other Articles of that convention.

A: Maria Miller (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Disabled People), Work and Pensions)

The Department for Work and Pensions is committed to the UN convention on the rights of disabled people, and to protecting the rights of disabled people and promoting choice and control in their daily lives.

In respect of article 8, the Department has made a strong public commitment to the social model of disability, and the Office for Disability Issues has been working closely with the equality and human rights commissions across the UK to raise awareness of the convention.

In respect of article 12, the Department has made good progress in developing a review process for benefit appointees, with a view to removing the reservation to article 12(4). This is a major undertaking because there are close to 900,000 DWP customers with appointees.

In respect of article 19, we launched the Right to Control on 13 December. This is a new legal right to give disabled people control over the support they receive. Disabled people can choose how to spend funding they receive from six different sources in order to maximise their choice and independence. Right to Control is being tested in seven local authority areas in England, in partnership with Jobcentre Plus and disabled people's organisations.

In respect of article 27, we launched Work Choice on 25 October 2010. Work Choice provides tailored support to help disabled people who face the most complex barriers to employment. It supports them to find employment and stay in work and ultimately helps them progress into unsupported employment. Work Choice is voluntary and available regardless of any benefits being claimed.

In respect of article 28, the Department is playing its part in tackling the deficit and bringing spending under control. The Department remains committed to supporting the people who need it most, and protecting the most vulnerable in our communities. We are committed to understanding the impact of our policies on disabled people and will be undertaking equality impact assessments, which will be made public.

As regards the wider convention, the Department recognises the principle of involvement of disabled people in the development of policies that affect them, and is engaging with disabled people on key changes such as the reform of disability living allowance.

The UK Government will report to the UN in July 2011 setting out how implementation of the convention has been achieved across Government. DWP officials are working with officials at the Office for Disability Issues in preparing the report, and this will set out in more detail what the Department is doing to meet its obligations across the convention as a whole, including articles 8, 12, 19, 27 and 28.

Work and Pensions 2

Q: Anne Begg

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what strategy his Department has in place to ensure the implementation of obligations arising from the UN convention on the rights of persons with disabilities; and by what means he expects the Office for Disability Issues to discharge its role as both the focal point and coordinating mechanism for implementation of that convention.

A: Maria Miller (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Disabled People), Work and Pensions)

The Office for Disability Issues (ODI) is designated as the UK Government focal point for work on the UN convention on the rights of disabled people under article 33 of the convention. The ODI is working with Departments across Westminster, and with the devolved Administrations to implement and report on the convention. This work includes raising awareness of the convention's obligations so that Departments are aware of their responsibility to take it into account in the development and implementation of policies which may affect disabled people, and coordinating the UK Government report to the United Nations.

ODI is working directly with disabled people, including disabled children, in order to raise awareness of the convention and learn about their views on how the UK is implementing it, in the spirit of article 33(3) of the convention. This includes working with a convention working group chaired by the UK Disabled People's Council (UKDPC), and supporting a number of convention-related awareness and training events organised by UKDPC.

ODI is also working with the four UK equality and human rights commissions which have been designated as the independent monitoring and reporting mechanism for the convention under article 33(2). ODI has supported a number of events held by the commissions in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to raise awareness, and help inform the reporting process

The wider Department for Work and Pensions is also committed to implementing the convention in relation to its policy and delivery activities. It is working closely with ODI and will be contributing to the UK Government report in 2011.

back to top