TORY Jeremy Balfour to lodge Disability Commissioner Bill

By Bill Heaney

Scottish Conservative MSP Jeremy Balfour will today (Tuesday) lodge his Disability Commissioner Members’ Bill at Holyrood.

The legislation would see the appointment of an independent commissioner to promote and safeguard the rights and interests of disabled people throughout Scotland.

The Lothian MSP’s proposals secured the support of organisations such as MS Society Scotland and the charity Camphill Scotland during consultation – and now he is urging MSPs of all parties to rally behind the bill.

The Disability Commissioner would perform a similar role to the Children and Young People Commissioner, by championing the rights of Scots with all types of disabilities – physical, mental, hidden and fluctuating.

In order to earn the right to be debated in Parliament, Jeremy Balfour’s bill must now garner the support of at least 18 MSPs, from two or more parties, over the next month.

Scottish Conservative Social Security and Disabilities spokesman Jeremy Balfour MSP said: “We must do more to support disabled people across Scotland – and that’s why we need a Disability Commissioner.

“I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to respond to my proposals during the consultation stage – and for their positive feedback.

“The Covid pandemic highlighted the major inequalities still being faced by disabled Scots.

“An independent commissioner would give people with disabilities someone to turn to for support, safe in the knowledge that they were dedicated to promoting and safeguarding their rights.

“The next target is to have the bill debated in the Scottish Parliament – and to achieve that I’m looking to secure cross-party support from as many MSPs as possible.

“The needs of our disabled people have been neglected for far too long but I hope that the establishment of a Disability Commissioner will go a long way to righting that wrong.”

You can read and watch about Jeremy Balfour proposals herehttps://www.parliament.scot/bills-and-laws/proposals-for-bills/proposed-disability-for-scotland-commissioner-bill

 Disabled people were disproportionately impacted by the Covid pandemic. According to The Lancet, “people with disabilities have been differentially affected by COVID-19 because of three factors: the increased risk of poor outcomes from the disease itself, reduced access to routine health care and rehabilitation, and the adverse social impacts of efforts to mitigate the pandemic,” (The Lancet, Triple jeopardy: disabled people and the COVID-19 pandemic, 16 March 2021, link).

The proposed Disability Commissioner would follow a similar model to that of the Children and Young People Commissioner that was established in Scotland in 2004. Like the Children’s Commissioner, the Disability Commissioner would encompass wide-ranging functions, with the specific intention that they would be viewed as the first and main port of call for people with a disability who are facing issues that might cut across a number of policy areas and may also require a number of associated actions. The proposed Disability Commissioner would encompass all disabilities; physical, mental, hidden and fluctuating conditions, as per the definition set out in the Equality Act 2010 Section 6, to ensure no-one is left behind or excluded from seeking assistance and support (cypcs.org.uk, Accessed 11 May 2022, linkEquality Act 2010 – Section 6, Accessed 11 May 2022, link).

Top of page picture of Jeremy Balfour MSP

Leave a Reply