|6 September 2016:
Baroness Deech moved that this House takes note of the Report from the Committee on the Equality Act 2010 and Disability (Session 2015-16, HL Paper 117).
"My Lords, this Motion could not be more timely. I quote the Prime Minister, who said on her first day in office that we need to build a country that works for everyone. She said that every child should be allowed to rise as far as their talents will take them and that birth should never be a barrier. The Select Committee on the Equality Act 2010 and Disability agrees. The Prime Minister has ordered an audit of the equality of treatment by public services. Our report was ahead of the game and delivers for the Government the very audit that she is seeking...."
during the debate
Lord Faulkner of Worcester:
"My Lords, it has been almost as great a privilege to listen to this debate as it was to serve on the Select Committee. The debate has demonstrated the extraordinary range of experience that Members of your Lordships’ House bring to the subject of disability. I thank all noble Lords who have spoken and particularly those who have spoken from their own life experiences and brought that to bear on this subject. ......
Other Members have spoken about parts of the report and the Government’s response where they have their own areas of expertise and knowledge. I shall concentrate briefly—because time is getting on in this debate—on recommendations 21 and 22 relating to disabled access to sports grounds, which are covered in paragraphs 245 to 249 of the report. I remind the House of my interest as a vice-president of the charity Level Playing Field.
The noble Baroness, Lady Deech, the noble Lord, Lord Northbrook, my noble friend Lord Harrison and the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, all referred to the Accessible Sports Grounds Bill, which I took through this House in 2015. With the exception of the then Minister—not the Minister who will be replying tonight—whose approach in that debate can perhaps best be described as lukewarm, every Member who spoke in the Second Reading debate on 17 July was strongly supportive, particularly in respect of the principle that each stadium should follow accessible stadia guidelines and improve the experience for disabled people attending their matches.
While it was evident that the Bill would not make progress in the other place without government support, it produced one very positive consequence, and that was the response from the English Premier League on 10 September 2015, which stated:
“All Premier League Clubs have agreed to make their stadiums compliant with the Accessible Stadia Guide by August 2017. Clubs also agreed to ensure the appropriate number of wheelchair bays are located in their away sections (10% of their home provision)”.
If that commitment were fulfilled to the letter, it would represent a huge step forward by the best supported and most affluent clubs in British football, particularly if the lead given by the Premier League were followed by the other football leagues in England, Wales and Scotland, and sports with significant numbers of fans attending their matches. .....
It appears that at least seven Premier League clubs will not meet the pledge by August 2017, as had been promised. The excuses being put forward by clubs as to why they will not meet this are, frankly, unacceptable. Liverpool Football Club, for example, seems far more interested in providing general hospitality places than in installing sufficient disabled fans’ seats to comply with football’s own minimum standards. Those seats for disabled people would ensure that the club meets its pledge, but instead, its disabled fans are expected to wait for phase 2 of the stadium expansion—whenever that might be. Watford Football Club seems to be removing disabled fans’ seats at a time when we should be seeing an increase, and Crystal Palace believes that it needs only to come up with a plan by August 2017, rather than comply with a commitment...."
read my contribution to the debate in full
15 September 2016: See joint press release from Level Playing Field and the Equality & Human Rights Commission (EHRC)