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Scottish Tories in call for ‘much-needed’ Disability Commissioner

Scottish Conservative MSP Jeremy Balfour (Lesley Martin/PA)
Scottish Conservative MSP Jeremy Balfour (Lesley Martin/PA)

The Scottish Conservatives are calling for the “much-needed” appointment of a Disability Commissioner for Scotland.

The party says the move would “better protect and promote the rights of disabled people”.

Jeremy Balfour, MSP for the Lothians region, will launch the consultation period on his Member’s Bill on Thursday.

Mr Balfour said the pandemic highlighted inequalities faced by disabled people and underlined the need for additional safeguards.

The proposal would see the commissioner working to promote the rights of disabled people across the country, serving as the first port of call for all who are facing difficulties.

After having gained support from disability groups and charities, Mr Balfour is now seeking responses to ensure the legislation would fully reflect the views of the Scottish public.

The consultation period will run until August 3.

Mr Balfour said: “From public facilities to Government employment schemes, the needs of disabled people had been neglected and overlooked by the SNP for years even before the pandemic.

“We must urgently do more to support disabled people in our society.

“An independent Disability Commissioner would help safeguard and promote the rights of disabled people in Scotland and give people with any kind of disability someone to turn to if they face difficulties or discrimination.

“I urge Scots to respond to the consultation so that we can ensure our proposals fully reflect the views of the Scottish public – and I hope that this much-needed Bill will receive cross-party support when it eventually comes before parliament.”

Emma Walker, director of charity Camphill Scotland, said: “There are now more barriers to equal citizenship for disabled people than ever before. We urgently need to prioritise the voices and experiences of disabled people, their families and unpaid carers.

“That’s why we welcome the consultation for the Disability Commissioner Bill, and I urge everyone to ensure that their voice is heard.”

Director of MS Society Scotland Morna Simpkins added: “A Disability Commissioner has the potential to make a real difference to the lives of people with MS in Scotland.

“We are grateful to Jeremy Balfour MSP for bringing forward this proposal and look forward to responding to it.”

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