Examination of Witnesses(Questions 60-63)|
TUESDAY 15 OCTOBER 2002
MP, ALISON JACKSON
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.
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 agoand I am concerned
that this is taking such a long timeI 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.
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.