Bill calling for independent disability commissioner set to close

The Disability Commissioner (Scotland) Bill is set to close on Wednesday.

Bill calling for independent disability commissioner in Scotland set to close as people urged to respond STV News
A disability commissioner would play a similar role to the children and young people’s commissioner.

Scots are being urged to have their say on proposals that would see the appointment of a disability commissioner in Scotland, as a consultation closes on a member’s bill on Wednesday.

 Scottish Conservative MSP Jeremy Balfour, who brought forward the bill, says that the responses so far have been “positive” with support coming from organisations including MS Society Scotland and Camphill Scotland.

The Lothian MSP is now encouraging those who haven’t already responded to have their say to allow him to present the strongest possible backing to the Scottish Parliament as he seeks to secure cross-party support.

A disability commissioner would play a similar role to the children and young people’s commissioner, which was established in Scotland in 2004, and would act as a port of call for those with a disability – whether physical, learning or hidden.

The appointed individual would also better promote the rights of disabled people in Scotland.

Balfour said that the pandemic highlighted the inequalities faced by disabled people and thanked everyone who has responded to the consultation, which has been open since May 12.

He said: “We must urgently do more to support disabled people across Scotland and I thank everyone who has taken the time to respond to my proposals so far.

“The responses to date have been positive but I encourage everyone who has not yet had their say on the bill to do so now, as the consultation period is coming to a close.

“The Covid pandemic highlighted the major inequalities still being faced by those with disabilities in Scotland. The appointment of an independent disability commissioner would give people with disabilities an individual to turn to for support as well as knowing this individual will be dedicated to promoting and safeguarding their rights.

“Securing even more responses will allow me to present this bill to the Scottish Parliament with the strongest possible backing and I hope it will secure cross-party support from my fellow MSPs.

“The needs of our disabled people have been neglected for far too long but I hope that the appointment of a disability commissioner will go a long way to writing some of those wrongs.”