During Dame Anne’s recent Parliamentary debate on representation in Parliament she called for the Scottish Government to follow Westminster’s example and establish their own ‘Access to Elected Office Fund for Disabled People’ to ensure standing for election to Holyrood and Scottish Councils are more accessible for people with disabilities.
Dame Anne said:
“It is important that more disabled people are elected to public office, be that Councillor, MP or MSP. But major barriers still exist in making this an easy process, not least the extra costs involved. That’s why the Access to Elected Office for Disabled People Fund is so important as it helps towards levelling the playing field for disabled people.
“It is also important that political parties play their part in encouraging disabled people to become active in their party and then to put themselves forward for candidate selection. We know the electorate are happy to vote for candidates with a disability but obviously can’t do this if disabled people haven’t been selected.”
Following on from the debate, Scottish Labour’s Equalities spokesperson Jackie Baillie MSP lodged the following motion in Holyrood:
Access to Office for Disabled People
That the Parliament notes a recent debate in the House of Commons, led by Dame Anne Begg MP, which called on both the UK Government and the Scottish Government to increase support for disabled people to access elected office; understands that The Independent Living In Scotland Report,Politically (in)correct– representation of disabled people in Politics, called on the Scottish Government to establish an “Access to Office for Disabled People Fund”; notes with regret, however, that such a fund has so far not been established; understands that one in five people in Scotland are disabled; believes that the Scottish Government needs to be more proactive in giving disabled people a voice and ensuring that financial support is in place to assist disabled people in becoming members of representative bodies, and hopes for rapid progress to be made on what it considers this very important issue.