04/12/2017 Westminster Hall


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04/12/2017

The debate in the House of Commons second chamber, Westminster Hall, on deafness and hearing loss, from Thursday 30 November.


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The four I called Jim Fitzpatrick to

move the motion, I would like to

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draw your attention to the fact that

the proceedings today

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are being made

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accessible for people who are deaf

or have problems with hearing,

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and the interpreters

are using British Sign Language.

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If Members bear that in mind

while making contributions,

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that will be helpful for everyone.

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OK, I called Jim Fitzpatrick to move

the motion.

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I beg to move, that this

House has considered

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deafness and hearing loss.

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It is a pleasure to see

you in the Chair, Mr McCabe.

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I am even more pleased

to see that our debate

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is being interpreted into sign

language, which I believe

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is a parliamentary first,

so we may be making history,

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which is great for all of us

who are here to participate.

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I am grateful to the

Backbench Business Committee

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for the opportunity to introduce

the debate, and am very pleased that

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so many colleagues have been able

to join us to contribute

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to this important discussion.

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It is good to see the Minister

in his place, even though

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the subject is not exactly

in his brief, and I look forward

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to hearing the winding-up

speeches from him and from

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the Opposition spokespersons.

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I place on the record my thanks

to the UK Council on Deafness,

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Action on Hearing Loss,

the National Deaf Children's

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Society, Deaf Plus, the Adult

Cochlear Implant Action Group

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and Brian Lamb, DeaflympicsGB,

Access Bedford, the three network

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and the House of Commons Library

for their assistance

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in preparing for the debate.

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That is a long list,

but given that 11 million people

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across the UK are living

with hearing loss, it

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could have been much longer.

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The UK Council on Deafness,

for example, represents 43 deafness

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or hearing loss organisations

and has produced

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a collective briefing.

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I should also record that I wear two

hearing aids of my own and am

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chair of the all-party

group on deafness.

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There are too many issues for me

to raise personally and it would be

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unfair not to share the time

available as equitably

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as possible among those here.

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So the bulk of my speech,

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at 13 and a half minutes,

will focus on three key issues:

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Access to Work, legal recognition

of British Sign Language

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and the implementation

of the national action

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plan on hearing loss.

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First, however, I would like to put

down a brief marker on several other

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issues that I do not have time

to raise in detail.

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I secured an Adjournment debate

on cochlear implants

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in March, in which the then

Minister David Mowat advised me

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that the National Institute

for Health and Care Excellence

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would consult on new proposals

by the ?end of the summer.

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We are still awaiting that

consultation, so any

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information from the Minister

would be very welcome.

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Requests to improve

paediatric audiology services

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across the country by accrediting

them through the IQIPS - improving

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quality in physiological services

-programme have been made

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for some time.

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I would welcome an update on any

progress on voluntary accreditation

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or, if that has proved

unsatisfactory, on whether

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the Government have given more

thought to making it compulsory.

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On Deaflympics, any information

from the Minister about discussions

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between his Department

and the Department for Digital,

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Culture, Media and Sport on support

for our deaf athletes

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would be very welcome.

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On early years intervention,

the first three and a half years

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are critical for the development

of listening and spoken language.

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I would be grateful for any update

from the Minister on Government

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thinking about ensuring that

auditory-verbal is put

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on the patient pathway

as a follow-up to the newborn

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hearing screening.

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Finally, I have some positive news

about telecommunication services:

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The briefing from Three shared how

it provides services for its deaf

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or hard-of-hearing customers.

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I also have some good

news from Deaf Plus,

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whose BSL advice line

was shortlisted this

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week for a national

Helplines Partnership award.

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Well done!

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Let me return to my three

key issues, beginning

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with Access to Work.

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One person in six in

the UK or approximately

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11 million people is

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living with some form of hearing

loss, and estimates show that nearly

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90,000 use British Sign Language

as their first language.

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The Government's Access to Work

scheme provides grants to disabled

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people to enable them to have equal

participation in the workforce.

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It has revolutionised the career

opportunities of deaf people,

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shattering the glass ceiling that

had limited them to manual jobs.

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It has been largely due to Access

to Work that deaf people have

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progressed as far as their talent

allows - there are now deaf

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chief executive officers,

deaf Ministry of Justice

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intermediaries and deaf theatre

directors, among other

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senior professionals.

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In March 2015, however,

the then Minister for

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Disabled People

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would impose a cap.

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The cap means that the scheme no

longer properly supports those deaf

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and disabled people for whom support

costs are more expensive.

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For deaf people who are

self-employed or entrepreneurs,

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there is no employer to make up

the difference between

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the award and the need.

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In a recent written answer,

the Department for Work and Pensions

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indicated that it was unable

to state the number of people still

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in receipt of awards above the cap.

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The UK Council on Deafness

conducted its own survey

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to establish the impact of the cap

on deaf people.

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It received 87 responses,

including 60 from those who will be

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capped in April 2018

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which given that fewer than 200

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people were identified

in the equality assessment

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as potentially in that situation.

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It is a high response rate.

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Deaf people tell us

that they are already avoiding

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applying for work in professional,

managerial and senior roles

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that will be capped.

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The cap on Access to Work awards

risks imposing a glass ceiling

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for deaf and disabled people

in their work.

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Some 46% said that they would not

apply for promotions,

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20% said they had not applied

?because they were worried,

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and 44% said that they would stay

with their current employer

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for as long as possible

because they were worried

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about a new employer.

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So, will the Government look again

at the evidence opposing the cap

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on Access to Work awards?

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Do the Government accept

that the cap on Access to Work

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grants is set too low?

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The Secretary of State amended it

from £42,100 to £43,000

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in his statement today,

but that is still too low.

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If the Minister will not remove

the cap, will they consider raising

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it to a level that provides deaf

people with more of

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the support they need?

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Finally, has the Government

considered that it might

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inadvertently have created

legitimate financial grounds

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on which employers can discriminate

against job applicants who use BSL?

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I recognise that those

are questions mainly for the DWP,

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but if the Minister cannot respond

to them today, I would be grateful

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if he ensured they were passed

on to the appropriate quarter.

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In answer to my question

in the Chamber about an hour ago,

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the Secretary of State said

that the Government were still

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looking at evidence.

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I hope that means that the door

is still open, because increasing

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the threshold by £1,000 clearly does

not cut it.

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In general employment terms,

there are hurdles to getting

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into work for people

with hearing loss anyway.

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In a YouGov survey commissioned

by Action on Hearing Loss,

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35% of business leaders stated

that they did not feel confident

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about their business employing

a person with hearing loss,

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while 57% agreed that there

is a lack of available support

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or advice for employers

about employing people

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with hearing loss.

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Access to Work is still

the DWP's best-kept secret.

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63% of the business

leaders polled had

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never heard of it.

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Let me move on to

British Sign Language.

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BSL is the first or preferred

language of more than 80,000

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deaf people in the UK,

and more than 150,000

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people use it at home.

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In 1987, the British Deaf

Association launched a call

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for the legal recognition of BSL,

and in 2003, following extensive

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lobbying, BSL was officially

recognised as a language

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in its own right by the DWP.

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In 2009, the UK Government ratified

the United Nations Convention

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on the Rights of Persons

with Disabilities, which states that

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Governments must uphold rights

by

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Accepting and facilitating

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the use of sign languages

in official interactions

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and by Recognizing and promoting

the use of sign languages.

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Despite formal recognition

by the UK Government that BSL

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is a language in its own right,

there has been no further progress

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towards establishing

a legal status for BSL.

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In the devolved Administrations,

the situation is different.

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In 2012, a consultation

for a British Sign Language Act

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in Scotland was initiated,

culminating in the passing of

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the British Sign Language Act 2015.

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In 2017, the Scottish Government

published their first

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BSL national plan.

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In 2016, a sign language framework

consultation was launched

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in Northern Ireland.

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Despite those developments, however,

there is still no pathway in place

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for legal recognition of BSL

across the UK.

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With such legal recognition of BSL

would come the rights of deaf

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people, and the benefits for deaf

people and for wider society

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would be far-reaching.?

On education, deaf children are 42%

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less likely to achieve five or more

GCSEs at grade C or above

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than their hearing peers,

but there is no reason a deaf child

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should do any worse

than a hearing child.

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On health, 70% of deaf people

who have not been to a GP recently

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wanted to go but did not,

mainly because there was no

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interpreter available.

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Deaf people who have been told

that they might have high blood

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pressure are three times more likely

than everyone else not

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to have it under control.

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Deaf people are almost twice

as likely as others to experience

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mental health issues,

which can be exacerbated

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by social exclusion.

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A health economics study showed that

eliminating poor diagnosis

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could save the NHS

£30 million annually.

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And it is worth noting that

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90% of deaf children are born

into hearing families.

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The call to Government

is that the deaf community want them

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to acknowledge the benefits of legal

recognition of BSL and commit

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to establishing a UK-wide sign

language framework consultation

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for a UK-wide sign language Act.

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The British Deaf Association

is asking for this consultation

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process to be led by an appropriate

Department whose remit

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covers language.

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However, that is another major

obstacle and it prompts a question

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for the Minister: which Department

and which Minister lead on BSL?

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I have been writing for some

time to try to find out.

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I even tabled a parliamentary

question to the Cabinet Office

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and the answer that question

elicited was that

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"All Government departments

have a responsibility to create

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inclusive communications.

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This does not mean promoting BSL

as an activity in itself but it does

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mean identifying and meeting

the communication needs

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of the audiences we are targeting".

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I am sorry, Minister,

but that answer is nowhere

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near clear enough and I think it

demonstrates why BSL is stranded.

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No Department is responsible for it,

no Minister is responsible for it,

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there is no champion in Government

who is responsible for it,

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there is no advocacy for it,

and there is no progress on it.

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Finally on BSL, there is the case

for a British Sign Language GCSE.

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Although BSL is a recognised

language within the UK,

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a GCSE that can be taught in schools

is not available.

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A GCSE on BSL has already been

piloted and is largely ready to go,

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but the Department for Education

is declining to give

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it the go-ahead.

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There is a principle

of fairness and justice here.

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BSL is an official language

in the UK that is used by tens

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of thousands of people.

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Not allowing BSL to be taught

as a GCSE implies that it has

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a lower status and importance

than other subjects,

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and that could even be

seen as discriminatory

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against deaf people.

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Also, we do not have

enough deaf interpreters.

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Judging by the briefings

that we have all received,

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I think that there are 800 to 900

registered deaf interpreters,

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which is clearly inadequate to deal

with more than 100,000 people.

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The last of the three issues

that I will raise today

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is the implementation of the action

plan on hearing loss.

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When the Department of Health

and NHS England published

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that plan in March 2015,

it was widely welcomed.

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This cross-Government plan not only

recognised hearing loss as a major

0:14:010:14:05

public health issue,

but highlighted the major

0:14:050:14:07

impacts of hearing loss.

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It also committed the Government

to improving services for everyone

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living with hearing loss.

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In addition, it set out

the need to reduce variation

0:14:150:14:17

in the provision of services,

through the development

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of guidelines by NICE

on adult-onset hearing loss.?

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The action plan set out five key

objectives in the following areas:

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earlier diagnosis; good prevention;

integrated services; increased

0:14:260:14:29

independence and ageing;

and good learning outcomes.

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There was wide support for the plan.

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As part of the implementation, NHS

England published its new national

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commissioning framework for hearing

loss services in July 2016.

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It is essential that information

about that framework is properly

0:14:460:14:49

disseminated by NHS England

and that the framework

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is fully adopted by clinical

commissioning groups.

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To help with that dissemination,

in September, NHS England published

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its What Works Guides -

Action Plan on Hearing

0:15:070:15:09

Loss, which provides

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advice to commissioners

and providers on supporting people

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with hearing loss in a variety

of different settings.

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NHS England is also set to publish

guidance imminently,

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setting out the need for health

and wellbeing boards to consider

0:15:170:15:19

people with hearing loss

when they are commissioning

0:15:190:15:21

services, as well as

considering its data tool.

0:15:210:15:23

In this case, the requests made

of Government would be fairly

0:15:230:15:26

straightforward to meet,

because the frameworks are in place.

0:15:260:15:28

The UK Council on Deafness

is asking the Government

0:15:280:15:30

to work with NHS England,

commissioners and professional

0:15:300:15:32

bodies for medical professionals

to raise the importance of early

0:15:320:15:37

diagnosis of hearing loss; produce

an analysis of the case

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for hearing screening,

potentially adding it to the NHS

0:15:420:15:46

health check that is provided

to people in England aged between 40

0:15:460:15:51

and 70; and raise the importance

of promoting the commissioning

0:15:510:15:54

framework through NHS England.

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The framework provides a clear

alternative to the decommissioning

0:15:570:16:00

of hearing aids, and CCGs should be

aware of it when designing

0:16:000:16:03

and commissioning local services.

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It is fair to say that on the three

major issues I have raised

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today the Government

have a mixed report card.

0:16:140:16:16

On Access to Work, the Government

started very positively,

0:16:160:16:19

then faltered and now

could be going backwards.

0:16:190:16:22

We need the response

of the Secretary of State for Work

0:16:220:16:27

and Pensions to my question

in the main Chamber today

0:16:270:16:30

on the need to continue to look

at the evidence to make serious

0:16:300:16:33

progress, because the evidence,

as I hope I have laid out,

0:16:330:16:36

is very much there.

0:16:360:16:37

On BSL, the Government

never really got started.

0:16:370:16:39

That is not just the

Minister's Government;

0:16:390:16:41

that is "the British Government",

a phrase that covers both

0:16:410:16:44

sides of the Chamber.

0:16:440:16:47

We are still stalled on BSL

and there is no sign of an ignition

0:16:470:16:50

switch to start us moving again.

0:16:500:16:53

We need a champion

of BSL in Government.

0:16:530:16:55

On the action plan,

the Government started well

0:16:550:16:58

and maintained progress,

but they need to move

0:16:580:16:59

through the gears now to ensure that

that progress continues and secures

0:16:590:17:02

the promised outcomes.

0:17:020:17:04

We only need more of the same,

because the start in this area

0:17:040:17:08

was welcomed by the whole deaf

and hearing loss community.

0:17:080:17:11

Finally, this is an important debate

and I am grateful that so many

0:17:110:17:15

colleagues have managed to be

here to participate.

0:17:150:17:17

I am also grateful for

the opportunity to open

0:17:170:17:20

the debate and I look forward

to the contributions

0:17:200:17:22

that will follow.

0:17:220:17:32

It is a great pleasure to serve

under your chairmanship, Mr McCabe.?

0:17:350:17:40

I start by congratulating

the honourable

0:17:400:17:43

Member for Poplar and Limehouse (Jim

on securing this debate

0:17:430:17:48

and on setting out his case

with his customary

0:17:480:17:50

courtesy and passion.

0:17:500:17:56

He has been a champion of these

issues for many years,

0:17:560:18:01

so I pay him heartfelt

tribute for that.

0:18:010:18:04

As the honourable

0:18:040:18:14

Gentleman said, this is the first

debate in the House to be

0:18:160:18:19

transmitted via British Sign

Language.

0:18:190:18:29

Christopher Jones, who wanted

to attend, but decided not to travel

0:18:320:18:34

Unfortunately, news of that came too

late for one of my constituents,

0:18:350:18:38

Christopher Jones, who wanted

to attend, but decided not to travel

0:18:380:18:40

down from Milton Keynes

because he did not think that this

0:18:400:18:43

facility would be available.

0:18:430:18:44

Mr McCabe, perhaps you could report

back to the Speaker and the Panel

0:18:440:18:47

of Chairs that we should consider

providing this interpretation not

0:18:470:18:49

only during debates on this subject,

but during general debates more

0:18:490:18:52

widely, so that we are as accessible

as possible to all our constituents.

0:18:520:19:02

I will focus on the introduction

of a nationwide telecommunication

0:19:080:19:14

relay service, something that

Mr Jones came to see me

0:19:140:19:16

about a few weeks ago.

0:19:160:19:22

In most advanced economies,

a nationwide TRS provides

0:19:220:19:31

functionally equivalent telephone

transmission services to deaf

0:19:310:19:35

and hard-of-hearing individuals.

0:19:350:19:38

A TRS is a telephone transmission

service that allows an individual

0:19:380:19:41

who is deaf or hard of hearing

to have the same telephone

0:19:410:19:45

availability as someone

who is of good hearing.

0:19:450:19:52

As telephone services

and technologies evolve,

0:19:520:19:55

so does the scope and achievement

of functional equivalence.

0:19:550:20:00

At one time, typed text

communication was considered

0:20:000:20:02

the functional equivalent of voice

communication, but in the 21st

0:20:020:20:06

century, captioning,

video and other technologies have

0:20:060:20:10

changed what equivalency means.

0:20:100:20:20

The gaps between what is available

to hearing individuals and those

0:20:210:20:24

with hearing deficiency are growing.

0:20:240:20:30

Sadly, the UK, which was the first

to introduce such systems,

0:20:300:20:33

now lags well behind other countries

such as the USA, Australia,

0:20:330:20:36

Canada and New Zealand.

0:20:360:20:39

The issue of functionally

equivalent telephone

0:20:390:20:40

services must be addressed.

0:20:400:20:42

It includes, but is not limited to:

the unrestricted availability

0:20:420:20:46

of relay services 24 hours a day,

seven days a week, emergency

0:20:460:20:49

preparedness and response,

to ensure the delivery of relay

0:20:490:20:54

services in the event of disruptions

to telecommunications services,

0:20:540:20:56

international capacity, and access

to the full array of existing

0:20:560:21:04

telephone services offered

by telecommunications companies.

0:21:040:21:10

Competition, innovation

and choice are important,

0:21:100:21:13

so that users can access a wide

range of services.

0:21:130:21:17

What works for some people in some

circumstances might be different

0:21:170:21:22

from what others need.

0:21:220:21:24

There are different facilities

available, and it is important that

0:21:240:21:27

each user can choose the system that

works best for them at any one time.

0:21:270:21:33

That might mean one individual

having different things

0:21:330:21:35

at different times.

0:21:350:21:37

My constituent said

that he would use one means

0:21:370:21:40

to communicate with his family,

and a different one

0:21:400:21:42

for business conversations.

0:21:420:21:47

Many other issues need

to be considered.

0:21:470:21:53

While these may seem like lofty

goals, they are being delivered

0:21:530:21:57

in the countries I mentioned.

0:21:570:22:00

For example, Australia provides

the following relay services:

0:22:000:22:04

textphone to voice and voice

to textphone, textphone voice

0:22:040:22:07

carry-over, textphone hearing

carry-over, speech to speech, video

0:22:070:22:10

relay services, internet relay,

mobile text relay, mobile SMS relay,

0:22:100:22:16

captioned telephone for phone

and web, and captioned

0:22:160:22:19

telephone to Braille display.

0:22:190:22:22

In Australia, the system has

operated as a national service

0:22:220:22:26

since 1995 and is available to every

Australian at no additional cost,

0:22:260:22:31

24 hours a day, seven days

a week.? A number of studies

0:22:310:22:38

since the system's introduction have

looked at its impact.

0:22:380:22:43

We might think some

of the findings are obvious,

0:22:430:22:50

but it is important to mention them.

0:22:500:22:54

Access to enhanced relay services

is positively associated

0:22:540:23:00

with reductions in feelings

of frustration with telephone use.

0:23:000:23:06

It gives individuals a much

higher quality of life.

0:23:060:23:14

It not only allows access

to work, as the honourable

0:23:140:23:19

Member for Poplar and Limehouse

mentioned, but is proven to reduce

0:23:190:23:23

the wider health consequences that

can arise from isolation,

0:23:230:23:29

such as mental health issues.

0:23:290:23:35

The cost saving is likely to exceed

the cost of introducing the service.

0:23:350:23:39

I think I heard him mention that

£30 million annually could be saved

0:23:390:23:47

from the health and social care

budget if many of these feelings

0:23:470:23:53

of social exclusion were dealt with.

0:23:530:23:59

Ironically, my constituent

was involved in designing

0:23:590:24:03

and setting up such a system

many years ago.

0:24:030:24:07

It had to close down in 2008

as he could not make it work,

0:24:070:24:12

and part of the problem

was bureaucratic muddle and delay.

0:24:120:24:19

The issue is often

cross-departmental.

0:24:190:24:24

We have a Minister from

the Department of Health here,

0:24:240:24:27

but the matter is as much

for the Department for Digital,

0:24:270:24:29

Culture, Media and Sport

and the Department for

0:24:290:24:31

Work and Pensions.

0:24:310:24:32

The potential benefits

of the system my constituent

0:24:320:24:35

introduced could not be realised

because there was buck-passing

0:24:350:24:38

and delays, and the approach

was not joined up.

0:24:380:24:43

My call today is for the Minister

to take away these points

0:24:430:24:47

and discuss them with his colleagues

in DWP and DCMS, and to drive

0:24:470:24:53

forward the introduction

of a nationwide service

0:24:530:24:58

in this country.

0:24:580:25:00

It is embarrassing that

while we were one of the first

0:25:000:25:03

to introduce such systems,

we have fallen back over

0:25:030:25:05

a number of decades.

0:25:050:25:07

Other countries are

now way ahead of us.

0:25:070:25:12

I urge the Minister and his

colleagues to look at the evidence,

0:25:120:25:15

particularly from Australia,

on what can be done

0:25:150:25:17

cost-effectively.

0:25:170:25:22

This is not just about money,

it is about quality of life.

0:25:220:25:25

We owe it to all our constituents

to give them as much access

0:25:250:25:29

to the world of work and public

services as anyone else,

0:25:290:25:33

and my suggestion is a fairly

straightforward way to do that.

0:25:330:25:37

I urge the Minister to look

at the evidence from other countries

0:25:370:25:41

and discuss it with his colleagues.

0:25:410:25:43

Mr Pat McFadden.

0:25:510:25:55

I want to begin by echoing

the tribute paid to my honourable

0:25:550:26:00

Friend the Member for

Poplar and Limehouse for

0:26:000:26:02

securing this debate.

0:26:020:26:03

As we have heard, there

are a number of dimensions

0:26:030:26:06

and aspects to deafness,

but I want to focus on one issue:

0:26:060:26:12

the criteria for receiving cochlear

implants under the NHS.

0:26:120:26:18

My argument today is simple:

the criteria should be reviewed

0:26:180:26:24

so that it is easier

to get an implant.

0:26:240:26:28

That would transform the lives

of those who need this technology,

0:26:280:26:32

and improve the lives

of their families and loved ones.

0:26:320:26:36

It would be a prudent investment,

because it would obviate the need

0:26:360:26:40

for more expenditure further down

the line as a consequence of people

0:26:400:26:45

not receiving the implants

they desperately need.

0:26:450:26:51

I will tell the story

of my constituent, Lamina Lloyd.

0:26:510:26:55

Until last year, Lamina had

a flourishing career as the manager

0:26:550:26:59

of a local citizens advice bureau.

0:26:590:27:02

However, Lamina has Meniere's

disease, which has resulted

0:27:020:27:05

in progressive hearing loss-so much

so that last year she

0:27:050:27:09

?had to give up work.

0:27:090:27:12

She has two children who themselves

have additional needs.

0:27:120:27:15

She can no longer hear her children,

who have to act as her ears.

0:27:150:27:20

She describes her family as having

gone from being an outdoor family

0:27:200:27:25

to one that rarely leaves the house.

0:27:250:27:29

Lamina is an intelligent,

capable person, but hearing loss has

0:27:290:27:34

meant the end of her career,

a diminishment in the quality

0:27:340:27:40

of her family life,

and increasing isolation.

0:27:400:27:46

To try to alleviate her condition,

Lamina wears the most powerful

0:27:460:27:48

hearing aids available,

turned up to maximum volume,

0:27:480:27:54

but they make little difference

and give her frequent ear infections

0:27:540:27:58

and headaches from their feedback

and squealing noises.

0:27:580:28:04

She can no longer hear music

or follow conversations,

0:28:040:28:13

yet she has been in a battle

that is the only word

0:28:130:28:19

for it for the past

0:28:190:28:20

two years to try to get

a cochlear implant.

0:28:200:28:23

She falls just 5 dB short,

which is no more than a whisper,

0:28:230:28:30

of the 90 dB hearing loss threshold

for consideration for an implant.

0:28:300:28:37

That threshold is one of

the strictest in the western world.

0:28:370:28:41

It is estimated that only 5%

of those who could benefit

0:28:410:28:45

from the technology get access to it

in the UK.

0:28:450:28:50

Lamina describes her condition

as being too deaf to hear,

0:28:500:28:56

yet not deaf enough to get the help

that could make a huge

0:28:560:28:59

difference to her life.

0:28:590:29:01

Her hearing has deteriorated even

further in recent months,

0:29:010:29:05

and she has an appointment to be

assessed at the Queen Elizabeth

0:29:050:29:08

Hospital in Birmingham in two weeks'

time, but she and many others

0:29:080:29:11

in her position have serious

reservations about how

0:29:110:29:16

the assessments are made.

0:29:160:29:25

The BKB test uses short

sentences in lab conditions.

0:29:250:29:27

It does not replicate

normal conversation

0:29:270:29:28

or real-world conditions.

0:29:280:29:32

Lamina and many others feel that

that tool is not fit for the purpose

0:29:320:29:35

of properly measuring hearing

ability and hearing loss.

0:29:350:29:37

Even if Lamina is approved

for an implant, why

0:29:370:29:39

has it taken so long?

0:29:390:29:44

Why do we put people

and their families through such pain

0:29:440:29:49

before giving them the help that

could be life-changing?

0:29:490:29:52

My honourable

0:29:520:29:56

Friend the Member for Poplar

and Limehouse raised those issues

0:29:560:29:58

in an Adjournment debate

earlier this year,

0:29:580:30:00

and briefly at the beginning

of his speech today.

0:30:000:30:02

He was told earlier this year

that the National Institute

0:30:020:30:05

for Health and Care Excellence

was launching a consultation

0:30:050:30:07

on the relevant guidelines.

0:30:070:30:10

That has not happened.

0:30:100:30:13

The guidelines have been

in place since 2009,

0:30:130:30:17

Are you

0:30:170:30:17

but technology and costs have moved

on a great deal since then.

0:30:170:30:22

I wish to ask the Minister

a few questions.

0:30:220:30:27

If he cannot respond to them

all today, I would be very happy

0:30:270:30:30

for him to consult with colleagues

and write to me, and other Members

0:30:300:30:34

participating in the debate,

with a more considered response.

0:30:340:30:40

First, why has the NICE

consultation, which we were promised

0:30:400:30:43

would be launched in summer this

year, not yet been launched,

0:30:430:30:45

and when will it be?

0:30:460:30:48

Secondly, does he agree that

Lamina's case and many similar cases

0:30:480:30:52

around the country show

that there is an overwhelming

0:30:520:30:54

argument for revising

those criteria?

0:30:540:31:00

Thirdly, whatever hearing loss

threshold is picked,

0:31:000:31:04

does the Minister agree

that the hearing loss test needs

0:31:040:31:08

to be done in real-world conditions

that approximate to how people

0:31:080:31:10

actually live their lives and

conduct conversations, and so on?

0:31:100:31:15

Fourthly, and perhaps most

fundamentally, why does it

0:31:150:31:20

a

0:31:200:31:20

take so long for people

to get an implant?

0:31:200:31:24

Why is it such a battle?

0:31:240:31:29

The NHS is there for those who need

it, it should not be an organisation

0:31:290:31:32

that people have to battle

with to get the treatment

0:31:320:31:35

that ?they need.

0:31:350:31:38

Had my constituent

been helped earlier,

0:31:380:31:41

she might still be in a job.

0:31:410:31:44

She would not need to rely

on the state for financial support,

0:31:440:31:47

and her family would not have had

to go through the huge difficulties

0:31:470:31:50

that they have all been

through together over the last

0:31:500:31:52

couple of years.

0:31:520:31:57

It is time for a step change

in the urgency with which the issue

0:31:570:32:00

of cochlear implants is treated.

0:32:000:32:01

The guidelines must be revised.

0:32:010:32:05

NICE needs to move on that soon,

so that the suffering

0:32:050:32:10

of my constituent Lamina Lloyd,

and the many people around

0:32:100:32:12

the country who are in a similar

position, can be alleviated.

0:32:120:32:22

On a point of order, Mr McCabe.

0:32:220:32:29

I asked my staff to

monitor the transmission

0:32:290:32:30

of the sign language.

0:32:310:32:32

It is not being broadcast,

the cameras do not

0:32:320:32:34

meet the interpreters.

0:32:340:32:40

poet appreciate if you took this

back to these speakers panel and

0:32:400:32:44

have a discussion about this in due

course.

0:32:440:32:48

I understand that the sign language

is being filmed today,

0:32:480:32:51

and when the debate is re-broadcast

it will appear in a box, as is

0:32:510:32:55

normal in other TV transmissions.

0:32:550:32:56

Obviously this is an early stage.

0:32:560:32:59

I will report back on how

the whole debate goes and any

0:32:590:33:02

points that Members raise,

but I understand that

0:33:020:33:06

the arrangements for today are that

when the debate is re-broadcast,

0:33:060:33:09

the sign language will appear.

0:33:090:33:10

I am grateful for that

clarification, Mr McCabe.

0:33:100:33:19

Kelly Tolhurst.

0:33:190:33:26

Thank you.

0:33:260:33:27

It is a pleasure to serve

under your chairmanship, Mr McCabe.

0:33:270:33:29

I congratulate the honourable

0:33:290:33:35

Member for Poplar and Limehouse

on securing this important debate,

0:33:350:33:37

it is a real pleasure for me

to speak in it.

0:33:370:33:40

I also think it is an absolutely

fantastic move that today's

0:33:400:33:42

debate is being signed.

0:33:430:33:46

I advocate that more debates held

in the Chamber be signed.

0:33:460:33:49

It should be the norm

in the House of Commons,

0:33:490:33:52

not an exception to the rule.

0:33:520:33:57

I was very keen to speak in this

debate about deafness and hearing

0:33:570:34:00

loss, because it has had a major

effect on my family.

0:34:000:34:08

Today, rather than focusing

on the many issues that affect deaf

0:34:080:34:16

people in this country,

I want to share with you

0:34:160:34:19

an example of how deafness

has affected my life.

0:34:190:34:22

25 years ago, at the age of 40,

my mum lost her hearing

0:34:220:34:25

literally overnight,

due to a virus.

0:34:250:34:31

She woke up one morning

and could not hear any more.

0:34:310:34:36

She had not been ill and had never

had any hearing problems,

0:34:360:34:39

but she went from being a hearing

person one day to having no

0:34:390:34:43

hearing the next day.

0:34:430:34:52

My father took my mother to the

hospital.

0:34:520:34:55

At that time, we had a really good

ear, nose and throat

0:34:550:34:58

hospital in Maidstone.

0:34:580:34:59

About a week after my

mum lost her hearing,

0:34:590:35:01

my father took her there,

and it was confirmed

0:35:010:35:03

that she had no hearing.

0:35:030:35:05

The hospital staff put her

on steroids and told her

0:35:050:35:07

that it was due to a virus,

that the hairs in her ears had died

0:35:070:35:11

and that it was very unlikely

she would ever get her hearing back.

0:35:110:35:16

That was absolutely devastating

for my mother and for us all

0:35:160:35:20

my sister, myself and my dad.

0:35:200:35:28

It changed her and our

lives fundamentally.

0:35:280:35:30

We could not communicate with her,

everything had to be written down.

0:35:300:35:33

My mum ?could not sign or lip-read,

so she was flung into isolation

0:35:330:35:36

and, quite honestly,

a state of depression.

0:35:360:35:38

It was a really tough time.

0:35:380:35:44

She had two teenage girls

who were at that time very

0:35:440:35:47

much into their singing,

and all of a sudden,

0:35:470:35:49

my mum had to accept

that she would never again be able

0:35:490:35:52

to hear her daughters sing.

0:35:520:35:59

Due to the abruptness

of her hearing loss,

0:35:590:36:03

it was really difficult to mitigate

some of the emotional

0:36:030:36:07

damage she suffered.

0:36:070:36:13

The NHS looked after her

and the staff tried to help her.

0:36:130:36:17

They gave her lip-reading classes

and offered her support

0:36:170:36:21

with a counsellor, they even

put her in contact with another lady

0:36:210:36:24

in the country who had

lost her hearing overnight,

0:36:240:36:27

but my mum was still mourning

the loss of something

0:36:270:36:30

that she was never going

to get back.

0:36:300:36:38

Importantly, she was never told

that she was a candidate

0:36:380:36:45

to have a cochlear implant,

that reinforces the point

0:36:450:36:47

made by the Right Honourable

0:36:470:36:51

Member for Wolverhampton South East.

0:36:510:36:56

Deafness is the

invisible disability.

0:36:560:36:59

My mum did not look

like she had a disability.

0:36:590:37:01

Her voice sounded like it always

had, because she had been a hearing

0:37:010:37:05

person for 40 years,

but I saw and experienced at first

0:37:050:37:08

hand the major barriers that people

who are deaf have to face.

0:37:080:37:17

I recognise that there are strong

differences between individuals

0:37:170:37:22

who have been born deaf,

those who have gradual hearing loss,

0:37:220:37:25

and those who had hearing

loss as a small child,

0:37:250:37:33

perhaps due to meningitis

or some other illness,

0:37:330:37:36

but the biggest thing for my mum

was that she did not

0:37:360:37:39

have any deaf friends.

0:37:390:37:40

We did not even know

any deaf people.

0:37:400:37:45

Particularly acute was the fact

that my mum's opportunities

0:37:450:37:47

were severely limited.

0:37:470:37:51

She had looked after me

and my sister at home,

0:37:510:37:54

but was looking forward

to going back to work

0:37:540:37:56

because we were now in our teens.

0:37:560:38:00

All of a sudden, she found

that she was unable to work,

0:38:000:38:04

because she did not

have the confidence,

0:38:040:38:07

and it was very difficult

for her to understand anyone

0:38:070:38:10

at that time.

0:38:100:38:12

The opportunities open to her

were therefore extremely limited.

0:38:120:38:22

Eventually, after eight years,

my mum decided that she wanted to do

0:38:230:38:25

something about her hearing loss.

0:38:260:38:30

She went to the doctors,

and they talked to her

0:38:300:38:32

about whether she could be

a candidate for a cochlear implant.

0:38:320:38:38

She was told that she would have

been able to access one immediately,

0:38:380:38:41

because of the severity

of her hearing loss,

0:38:410:38:44

but it then took another two years

for her to have an implant,

0:38:440:38:47

because 25 years ago the funding

was quite a challenge,

0:38:470:38:50

due to the fact that such procedures

were not as frequent

0:38:500:38:52

as they are now.

0:38:520:38:59

After ten years of suffering,

being isolated, suffering

0:38:590:39:04

with depression and being unable

to go back to work, she finally had

0:39:040:39:07

the cochlear implant.

0:39:070:39:12

Sadly for her, after a year

of travelling to St Thomas'

0:39:120:39:16

Hospital, with its fabulous

technicians, led by Terry Nunn,

0:39:160:39:24

it was decided that the cochlear

implant had not worked.

0:39:240:39:26

She therefore had to go back

for a further implant.

0:39:260:39:33

Many people will not understand that

a cochlear implant does not bring

0:39:330:39:36

someone's hearing back.

0:39:360:39:40

They do not hear like they did

when they were a hearing person,

0:39:400:39:43

but it gives them some

quality of life.

0:39:430:39:52

Technology has changed,

and 25 years on, cochlear implants

0:39:520:39:55

are available not just in London,

but all over the country.

0:39:550:39:59

What is very clear is

that the sooner someone has

0:39:590:40:03

a cochlear implant after the loss

of hearing, the greater impact it

0:40:030:40:11

will have on how that person hears.

0:40:110:40:18

I was extremely worried

on reading the reports,

0:40:180:40:25

which have ?already been mentioned,

that some clinical commissioning

0:40:250:40:27

groups are now looking at stopping

hearing aid provision.

0:40:270:40:31

One of the only things that

kept my mother going through those

0:40:310:40:34

ten years was that she was

using a hearing aid.

0:40:340:40:39

It did not help her hearing, all it

did was accentuate the background

0:40:390:40:42

noises and cut out some

of her tinnitus some of the time-but

0:40:420:40:48

if she had not had access to that

service in the time before having

0:40:480:40:51

a cochlear implant, it

would have been even worse.

0:40:510:40:54

In my view, hearing aids are a cheap

way of having an impact

0:40:540:40:59

on people who are suffering

from gradual hearing loss.

0:40:590:41:09

I find it quite frightening

that CCGs would even be

0:41:090:41:11

considering stopping that support,

and I think it is a dangerous

0:41:110:41:14

road to go down.

0:41:140:41:21

As honourable

Members have already said,

0:41:210:41:23

hearing loss, even if it is mild,

0:41:230:41:26

sends people into isolation.

0:41:260:41:28

They might not put themselves

into certain situations

0:41:280:41:29

because of fear of not understanding

or not being able to

0:41:290:41:32

hear what is going on.

0:41:320:41:36

I used to go into the supermarket

with my mother and people would ask

0:41:360:41:40

her if she would like a carrier bag,

but because she did not hear them,

0:41:400:41:43

they would think she was rude.

0:41:430:41:46

They might make a rude comment

to her because of that,

0:41:460:41:49

but she actually could not hear

them.

0:41:490:41:51

Hearing aids are massively important

and can be an important way

0:41:510:41:54

of keeping people out of that

isolation and of maintaining

0:41:540:41:56

their contact with the health

service so that the hearing loss

0:41:560:42:00

can be monitored.

0:42:000:42:02

It is not often talked about,

but people who suffer from hearing

0:42:020:42:08

loss and deafness are also very

embarrassed by their disability.

0:42:080:42:15

If it was physically visible,

everybody would be talking

0:42:150:42:20

about that kind of disability.

0:42:200:42:30

People would be banging the drum

and asking for support

0:42:310:42:34

from the Government and different

organisations, but deaf people work,

0:42:340:42:36

get on with their lives

and rarely moan very much.

0:42:360:42:39

They put up with quite a lot.

0:42:390:42:47

Because they do not have a visible

characteristic, it is very difficult

0:42:470:42:50

for hearing people to truly

understand the isolation,

0:42:500:42:52

depression and mental health issues

that they are subjected to.

0:42:520:43:01

I have spoken today very much

from an emotional point of view

0:43:010:43:04

about a real-life situation that

has affected me.

0:43:040:43:08

I hope that what I have said has

illustrated that deafness can take

0:43:080:43:12

many different forms, it occurs not

just in old age, or from birth.

0:43:120:43:17

For too long, deaf people have been

disadvantaged and isolated.

0:43:170:43:25

It is really good to have this

debate, and I join the honourable

0:43:250:43:29

Member for Poplar and Limehouse

in supporting the cause of the UK

0:43:290:43:32

Council on Deafness.

0:43:330:43:36

All its recommendations

are well thought out,

0:43:360:43:40

meaningful and realistic asks.

0:43:400:43:49

I hope that anyone who is deaf

who watches this debate next week

0:43:490:43:55

will see that it is good to have

such debates in Parliament,

0:43:550:44:00

and that we care about deafness

in this country and the people that

0:44:000:44:04

suffer from it.

0:44:040:44:05

I am pleased to have been

able to speak today.

0:44:050:44:12

Stephen Lloyd.

0:44:120:44:18

It is a privilege to serve

under your chairmanship, Mr McCabe.

0:44:180:44:21

I join other honourable

0:44:210:44:22

Members in congratulating

the honourable

0:44:220:44:27

Member for Poplar and Limehouse

on securing the debate.

0:44:270:44:30

I was chair of the all-party

parliamentary group on deafness,

0:44:300:44:32

but was rudely interrupted in 2015

when something else happened.

0:44:320:44:37

It is a pleasure to be back

and to serve as vice-chair

0:44:370:44:40

of the APPG under the honourable

0:44:400:44:41

Gentleman's excellent chairmanship.?

I commend the previous speakers'

0:44:410:44:45

comments about cochlear implants.

0:44:450:44:52

I remember 20 or 30 years ago,

when they really began to take off.

0:44:520:44:58

The difference between now

and then is absolutely huge.

0:44:580:45:00

That overlaps with

what the honourable

0:45:000:45:07

Member for Rochester

and Strood described

0:45:070:45:09

of her mother's experience.

0:45:090:45:10

I thank her for that moving speech.

0:45:100:45:15

Her mum will be proud of her,

I am absolutely sure of that.

0:45:150:45:18

I can relate to a lot of the things

that her mum went through.

0:45:180:45:22

I have been deaf for about

50 years of my life.

0:45:220:45:24

Cochlear implants have made a huge

difference and the improvement

0:45:240:45:27

is absolutely massive.

0:45:270:45:28

The Minister is from the Department

of Health-he is an old colleague

0:45:280:45:31

from coalition days,

it is good to see him-and

0:45:310:45:33

I ask him to explore

0:45:330:45:35

how cochlear implants can be

ever more available,

0:45:350:45:39

because they do much more now

and they do it much earlier.

0:45:390:45:41

They are a game-changer.

0:45:410:45:45

For many years after they first came

out, a long, long time ago,

0:45:450:45:48

they really did not make that much

of a difference.

0:45:480:45:52

There was vigorous opposition

from a lot of the British

0:45:520:45:54

Sign Language community,

and I understand why.

0:45:540:45:58

That has changed a great deal over

the years and cochlear implants

0:45:580:46:01

are now, in many ways,

the future for

0:46:010:46:03

transforming deafness.

0:46:030:46:06

I never really believed it

in the old days, but now I do,

0:46:060:46:09

because of the advances.

0:46:090:46:12

I would like to cover a few areas,

a couple from the UK Council

0:46:120:46:16

on Deafness angle and a couple

specifically because we have

0:46:160:46:18

a Health Minister here.

0:46:180:46:22

British Sign Language

is a different language.

0:46:220:46:28

I am hard of hearing and have been

since having measles when I was six.

0:46:280:46:34

Sometimes, people might say to me,

"Stephen, are you a member

0:46:340:46:37

of the deaf community?"

0:46:370:46:42

And I would say, "No, I am a member

of the hearing community.

0:46:420:46:45

I just don't hear very well."

0:46:450:46:46

That is an important point,

0:46:460:46:47

because they are completely

different.

0:46:470:46:49

The deaf community is a community.

0:46:490:46:50

The BSL community is a completely

different community, with cultural

0:46:500:46:52

norms and a different language.

0:46:530:46:54

BSL is not even a direct translation

of my speech, it is different.

0:46:540:46:57

Sometimes people do

not understand that.

0:46:570:47:00

They would say to me,

"Why don't you learn BSL?"

0:47:000:47:04

and I would say,

"Because I am a member

0:47:040:47:06

of the hearing community,

I just don't hear very well,

0:47:060:47:09

and it is a different language."

0:47:090:47:10

I am very supportive of profoundly

0:47:100:47:12

deaf people trying to get BSL

as a recognised language,

0:47:120:47:18

as has happened, I believe,

in Holyrood in Scotland.

0:47:180:47:23

I remember just before 2015 having

meetings with a number

0:47:230:47:28

of people down from Scotland

and we were watching that

0:47:280:47:31

development with great interest.

0:47:310:47:35

Once it happens in one legislative

House, it is very hard for other

0:47:350:47:39

legislative Houses not to follow,

so I say good luck with

0:47:390:47:42

that up in Scotland,

because it is a game-changer.

0:47:420:47:45

It will happen eventually

in Westminster.

0:47:450:47:48

When it does, it

is not just a label.

0:47:480:47:53

When a nation says that a language

is a statutory language,

0:47:530:47:56

it means it is accessible and that

public bodies have to provide

0:47:560:47:59

information in that language,

and that will make a huge difference

0:47:590:48:02

for a lot of profoundly deaf people.

0:48:020:48:10

I will tell honourable

0:48:100:48:11

Members why and give

one very good example.

0:48:110:48:13

I have been involved for many years

in politics around deafness

0:48:130:48:17

as a trustee of this or a patron

of that, or what have you.

0:48:170:48:20

I knew a lot of people

who are profoundly deaf

0:48:200:48:24

working in that area,

including from the British

0:48:240:48:27

Deaf Association.

0:48:280:48:33

I just came from a statement this

morning in which the Secretary

0:48:330:48:36

of State for the Department for Work

and Pensions mentioned that

0:48:360:48:39

about 50% of disabled

people are out of work.

0:48:390:48:45

I tell you ?what, Mr McCabe,

it is a hell of a lot higher

0:48:450:48:48

than that for the profoundly deaf.

0:48:480:48:51

I do not have the figures because no

one really finds them.

0:48:510:48:54

The DWP-it used to drive me crazy

when I was here before-will not

0:48:540:48:57

slice the different disabilities up.

0:48:570:48:58

It just says "problems

with deafness and problems

0:48:580:49:00

with visual impairment",

which completely denies

0:49:000:49:02

the separateness of deafness.

0:49:020:49:03

Off the bat, though,

I would say that profoundly deaf

0:49:030:49:06

people have an unemployment rate

of around 70%, which

0:49:060:49:08

is just ridiculous.

0:49:090:49:19

How can we possibly

have 100,000 people -

0:49:190:49:24

if not more - of adult working

0:49:240:49:26

age and have such barriers that

70% are unemployed?

0:49:260:49:28

It is a blooming outrage!

0:49:280:49:29

Now that I am back in the House,

which is wonderful for the people

0:49:290:49:39

of Eastbourne, I thank them, I am

determined to lobby hard to make BSL

0:49:400:49:43

an accepted language.

0:49:430:49:44

I am also keen to

join the honourable

0:49:440:49:46

Member for Poplar and Limehouse

in lobbying on Access to Work.

0:49:460:49:51

The Government have done a great

thing with Access to Work.

0:49:510:49:53

I think

it was John Major's

0:49:530:49:55

Government that started it.

0:49:550:49:56

Access to Work is a good thing

which has made a huge

0:49:560:49:59

difference to a lot of people,

and I am a big supporter or it,

0:49:590:50:02

but there is a challenge.

0:50:020:50:03

It has made a great difference

for people who are in work

0:50:030:50:06

and acquire a disability

through illness, a catastrophic

0:50:060:50:08

incident or what have you-it has

been fantastic in helping them

0:50:080:50:11

to stay in work.

0:50:110:50:13

I want it to be improved,

particularly in the small

0:50:130:50:16

and medium-sized enterprises sector,

so that SMEs understand

0:50:160:50:18

that they can employ

people with disabilities.

0:50:180:50:22

Access to Work provides

a lot of the money that

0:50:220:50:26

will buy an induction loop,

put in a ramp, or do whatever

0:50:260:50:28

is necessary to help an employer

take on a disabled person.

0:50:280:50:35

That is really important.

0:50:350:50:37

Corporates kind of get it-they

are huge, and they have massive

0:50:370:50:40

human resources departments and pots

of money, so they try

0:50:400:50:42

to do their best.

0:50:420:50:44

It is much harder for an SME

employing three people.

0:50:440:50:51

If I were the director of a plumber

working seven days a week,

0:50:510:50:54

and someone with disability came

to see me, it would be

0:50:540:50:57

so much easier to say, "No,

no," and find an excuse not

0:50:570:51:00

to employ them.

0:51:000:51:03

Access to Work often provides

the money that allows the SME

0:51:030:51:06

to take on that disabled person.

0:51:060:51:09

I will let the House

into a vast secret.

0:51:090:51:11

I say this with authority,

because I used to be a consultant

0:51:110:51:14

in this area for years.

0:51:140:51:16

If a business employs disabled

people, they get lower churn.

0:51:160:51:18

I have seen that in call

centres, in businesses

0:51:180:51:21

and in numerous other areas.

0:51:210:51:24

I used to be very involved

with the Federation

0:51:240:51:29

of Small Businesses,

and I am sure I will be

0:51:290:51:32

again now I am back.

0:51:320:51:35

Lower churn is really

important for businesses

0:51:350:51:37

if a lot of their spend goes

on employing people.

0:51:370:51:40

At a later date, I will explain

why it leads to lower

0:51:400:51:43

churn, but it does.

0:51:430:51:47

Will the honourable

Gentleman give way?

0:51:470:51:51

The honourable

0:51:570:51:59

Gentleman is talking

about the challenges that SMEs

0:51:590:52:01

have in employing people

with such impairments.

0:52:010:52:05

Does he agree that it is difficult

for many people who suffer

0:52:050:52:09

from deafness or failing hearing

to progress within organisations

0:52:090:52:12

because of the cap?

0:52:120:52:20

It is therefore almost

self-enforcing that those people

0:52:200:52:23

are pressed into part-time working.

0:52:230:52:29

That is a very good example.

0:52:290:52:31

I have no hearing on my left,

so I could not hear the honourable

0:52:310:52:34

Gentleman trying to intervene.

0:52:340:52:35

Jim knows to punch me.

0:52:350:52:37

The honourable

Gentleman is right.

0:52:370:52:38

There are issues to do

with Access to Work.

0:52:380:52:40

As it has expanded and cost a lot

more money over the years,

0:52:400:52:46

the Government, I am

not chucking stones,

0:52:460:52:47

as I know how challenging

0:52:470:52:49

it is to work within the Budget

envelope-have introduced more

0:52:490:52:51

and more caps.

0:52:510:52:52

Rather than focusing on different

ways of capping Access to Work,

0:52:520:53:00

I would like the DWP, the Minister

can go back and tell his

0:53:000:53:04

colleagues-to focus on better

and more creative ways

0:53:040:53:05

to use the money.

0:53:060:53:15

I know from years of experience,

colleagues will have

0:53:150:53:18

to take my word for it,

that the majority of disabled

0:53:180:53:23

people who get into a job,

are properly managed

0:53:230:53:25

and have the right support,

stay there for years.

0:53:250:53:31

That costs much less money

than constantly having to re-employ.

0:53:310:53:38

I thank the honourable

Gentleman for the intervention.

0:53:380:53:40

I want to talk about two key

areas that are specific

0:53:400:53:43

to the Minister's brief.

0:53:430:53:48

One of the things I fought for last

time I was here, I am going to do

0:53:480:53:52

so now as the Minister

is in Health, was an automatic

0:53:520:53:55

invitation for a hearing aid

screening whenever someone

0:53:550:53:56

hits pension age.

0:53:560:53:59

That would be at 65 or 66,

although that was under

0:53:590:54:03

the coalition, I think

retirement age is 150 now.

0:54:030:54:12

That is significant

because something like 50%

0:54:120:54:16

of people over the age of 65,

heading up to 60% as they get older,

0:54:160:54:22

begin to get age-onset hearing loss.

0:54:220:54:27

My hearing loss is not age-onset,

although I am old enough now-it

0:54:270:54:31

was measles, as I

said-and the honourable

0:54:310:54:35

Member for Poplar and Limehouse

is far too young, so his cannot

0:54:350:54:38

possibly be age-onset.

0:54:380:54:39

The thing with hearing loss

is that the vast majority of people

0:54:390:54:42

ignore it for 15 years

because it is not a sexy disability.

0:54:420:54:45

The honourable

Member for Rochester

0:54:450:54:50

and Strood flagged

that up, and it is true.

0:54:500:54:52

People start losing their hearing,

they do not admit to it,

0:54:520:54:55

their husband or wife goes potty,

the volume is turned up

0:54:550:54:58

massively on the television,

and eventually their kids drag them

0:54:580:55:00

to the audiology department,

if it is still open-we will come

0:55:000:55:03

to that-in their mid-70s.

0:55:030:55:06

The problem with that,

there is significant

0:55:060:55:08

data to prove this,

0:55:080:55:12

which I will happily share

with the Minister another time, is

0:55:120:55:14

that the longer someone takes

to get a hearing aid,

0:55:140:55:17

the lower the chance of it working.

0:55:170:55:18

The difference between a 75-year-old

and a 65-year-old in

0:55:180:55:20

acuity terms is enormous.

0:55:210:55:22

Hearing aids are not like glasses.

0:55:220:55:26

If I cannot see properly, I put

glasses on and I have 20:20 vision.

0:55:260:55:29

Hearing aids do not replace lost

sound, all they do is amplify

0:55:290:55:32

the residual hearing.

0:55:320:55:35

Let me try to explain that

to colleagues very quickly.

0:55:350:55:38

Imagine a radio with a battery

that is running down.

0:55:380:55:41

If the volume is turned up,

it makes a lot more sound,

0:55:410:55:43

but it is very discordant.

0:55:440:55:45

That is what hearing aids do.

0:55:450:55:48

I was pressing very hard

for the Department of Health to run

0:55:480:55:51

a pilot so that all people who get

to pensionable age receive an invite

0:55:510:55:56

to audiology or wherever,

it could be a pharmacy,

0:55:560:56:01

for that matter, to

have a hearing test.

0:56:010:56:03

My rationale for that,

which was supported by pretty much

0:56:030:56:06

every group that could possibly be

imagined, including NICE,

0:56:060:56:10

was that if people get in early,

they are forced to accept

0:56:100:56:13

they are losing their hearing.

0:56:130:56:16

They get a hearing aid,

and ipso facto it is much

0:56:160:56:19

easier to get used to.

0:56:190:56:20

My view, which is shared by many

others, is that that

0:56:200:56:23

would be a huge advantage,

not least in reducing

0:56:230:56:25

the levels of dementia.

0:56:250:56:26

We have discovered that dementia

is linked to social isolation,

0:56:260:56:30

and old people who are and deaf

or hard of hearing tend to isolate.?

0:56:300:56:35

The Department of Health agreed

in principle to run a pilot.

0:56:350:56:41

It took me a long time

to get that agreement,

0:56:410:56:43

because the Department did not

want to do it.

0:56:430:56:45

It knew that I was right

and all those extra hearing aids

0:56:450:56:48

were going to cost a lot more money.

0:56:480:56:50

Then there was a tragedy,

colleagues: I lost the election.

0:56:500:56:54

I was not there to nag like hell,

and it sort of disappeared

0:56:540:56:57

and was put on the back burner.

0:56:570:56:59

I am delighted to see

that my old colleague

0:56:590:57:01

is now the Minister.

0:57:010:57:06

I am sure that, now I have

put that on the table,

0:57:060:57:09

he will move heaven and earth

to develop it into a pilot.

0:57:090:57:12

It will make a huge difference

to hundreds of thousands of people-I

0:57:120:57:18

am deadly serious,

so I encourage that.

0:57:180:57:20

It is easy to cut hearing aids,

because it is mostly

0:57:200:57:24

old people who use them.

0:57:240:57:27

They are not organised and are not

going to complain like hell,

0:57:270:57:29

they are isolated, anyway.

0:57:290:57:31

As I said, they are in their mid-70s

by the time they go

0:57:310:57:34

to audiology departments.

0:57:340:57:36

I am really pretty angry that a lot

of CCGs are getting away

0:57:360:57:39

with beginning to trim audiology

services because there are not

0:57:390:57:43

enough people fighting their corner.

0:57:430:57:47

I know that CCGs are independent,

but the Minister and I also know

0:57:470:57:50

that there are protocols.

0:57:500:57:55

In his response, I ask that he make

a commitment that CCGs will be told

0:57:550:57:58

how important audiology

and hearing aids are.

0:57:580:58:05

They must not use the austerity

challenges they face

0:58:050:58:10

to cut audiology.

0:58:100:58:14

On that note, I again

thank the honourable

0:58:140:58:17

Member for Poplar and Limehouse

for securing this debate.

0:58:170:58:29

It is a pleasure to serve

under your chairmanship, Mr McCabe.

0:58:290:58:32

I congratulate my Honourable

0:58:320:58:33

Friend the Member for

Poplar and Limehouse

0:58:330:58:35

on securing the debate.

0:58:350:58:38

Colleagues have spoken very movingly

about their personal experiences.

0:58:380:58:46

It is great to see my Honourable

0:58:460:58:51

Friend the Member for

Winchester in his place

0:58:510:58:53

as the responding Minister.

0:58:530:58:54

I am sure he will do this ably,

but it is an indication

0:58:540:58:57

of the challenges that

the hard-of-hearing and deaf

0:58:570:59:00

community face that Honourable

0:59:000:59:02

Members have mentioned five

Departments that have issues that

0:59:020:59:08

need to be addressed -

the Department of

0:59:080:59:11

Health, the Department

for Education, the Department

0:59:110:59:14

for Business, Energy

and Industrial Strategy,

0:59:140:59:16

the Department for Culture,

0:59:160:59:17

Media and Sport and the Department

for Work and Pensions.

0:59:170:59:20

That shows that by working

in departmental silos,

0:59:200:59:22

there is perhaps a danger that some

of challenges that we are hearing

0:59:220:59:25

about today are not

being properly addressed.

0:59:250:59:29

My Honourable

Friend the Member for

0:59:290:59:30

Poplar and Limehouse

0:59:300:59:34

is a champion for the deaf

and hard-of-hearing community.

0:59:340:59:39

I will briefly highlight the work

of another such champion,

0:59:390:59:42

Ann Jillings, from Lowestoft,

who is working with passion

0:59:420:59:45

and determination to secure the best

possible education for her son,

0:59:450:59:48

Daniel.

0:59:480:59:51

In doing so, she is campaigning

for other parents of deaf

0:59:510:59:54

children in north Suffolk.

0:59:540:59:58

Daniel started at Bungay High

School in September.

0:59:581:00:06

He is doing well and there is a good

package of support in place for him,

1:00:061:00:09

but Ann had to fight very hard

to get that and she continues

1:00:091:00:13

to campaign for a hearing impaired

unit in north Suffolk.

1:00:131:00:16

It is clear that not just in Suffolk

but across the country,

1:00:161:00:21

deaf children do not get the right

support right from the start,

1:00:211:00:28

so they cannot always realise

their full potential at school.

1:00:281:00:32

That can put them at

a considerable ?disadvantage

1:00:321:00:34

for the rest of their lives.

1:00:341:00:39

We need to break down these barriers

and create a properly

1:00:391:00:42

funded national framework,

within which local education

1:00:421:00:46

authorities such as Suffolk County

Council can provide a good education

1:00:461:00:52

and support service locally.

1:00:521:00:55

If they do not do that,

they must be held to account.

1:00:551:00:59

The National Deaf Children's

Society, which does great work

1:00:591:01:03

campaigning for deaf children

to have the same opportunities

1:01:031:01:07

as everyone else, has highlighted

four issues on which Government

1:01:071:01:09

action is needed to break

down the barriers that

1:01:091:01:13

deaf children face.

1:01:131:01:19

First, the NHS needs

to improve the quality

1:01:191:01:22

of children's hearing services.

1:01:221:01:29

The National Deaf Children's Society

highlighted in its Listen Up!

1:01:291:01:31

Campaign that, across the country,

many such services have significant

1:01:311:01:33

shortcomings and are failing to meet

the necessary audiology standards.

1:01:331:01:36

The quality assurance process

that was previously in place has

1:01:361:01:40

ended, and it has not been replaced

by any other mandatory process.

1:01:401:01:50

The NDCS has a three-point

action plan to address

1:01:501:01:52

this particular problem.

1:01:521:01:55

First, NHS England must ensure

that the children's audiology

1:01:551:02:00

services that it directly

commissions, such as

1:02:001:02:10

for the under-fives,

comply with the IQIPs, improving

1:02:151:02:17

quality in physiological

services-accreditation programme.

1:02:171:02:19

Secondly, it is vital that that

programme is more transparent,

1:02:191:02:21

so that families know

whether their services

1:02:211:02:23

are good quality or whether

they need to improve.

1:02:231:02:27

Thirdly, the accreditation must be

compulsory, so that all paediatric

1:02:271:02:29

audiology services move

towards running

1:02:291:02:30

a good-quality operation.

1:02:301:02:37

My second point relates

to access to radio waves

1:02:371:02:40

technology for deaf children.

1:02:401:02:49

Radio aids play a vital role

in helping deaf children to hear

1:02:491:02:52

speech, they enable them to better

understand their teacher,

1:02:521:02:55

and they have a big impact

on improving parent-child

1:02:551:02:57

communication.

1:02:571:03:02

Despite the obvious benefits,

most local authorities do not

1:03:021:03:04

currently make radio aids available

for use by families in the home.

1:03:041:03:11

The NDCS is calling on local

authorities and the Department

1:03:111:03:14

for Education to ensure that every

child who could benefit from a radio

1:03:141:03:17

aid is given access to one at

the earliest possible opportunity.

1:03:171:03:22

To do that, the Department

for Education should encourage local

1:03:221:03:27

authorities to make use

of their special provision capital

1:03:271:03:29

fund, to provide radio aids

where they are needed.

1:03:291:03:32

My third point relates to the need

for a GCSE in British Sign Language.

1:03:321:03:35

The Government really must listen

to the right to sign campaign,

1:03:351:03:38

to make British Sign Language

available as a GCSE that can

1:03:381:03:41

be taught in school.

1:03:411:03:42

Ann Jillings points out

that it is the first

1:03:421:03:50

language of deaf children,

so it is discriminatory that deaf

1:03:501:04:00

children do not have the opportunity

to achieve what is probably the most

1:04:001:04:08

widely recognised qualification,

and that it is given a lower status

1:04:081:04:12

than other languages.

1:04:121:04:17

There are other accredited

qualifications in British Sign

1:04:171:04:21

Language, but they are not widely

available to children in schools

1:04:211:04:24

and they are less likely to be

recognised by employers.

1:04:241:04:30

Daniel Jillings achieved his BSL

level 1 three years ago,

1:04:301:04:35

but it was not funded.

1:04:351:04:39

Ann tutored him and paid

for all the assessments herself.

1:04:391:04:44

There is a compelling

case for a GCSE in BSL,

1:04:441:04:49

based on equality, the denial

of choice for deaf children

1:04:491:04:51

and the unnecessary barrier that it

poses to further and higher

1:04:511:04:54

education, and thereafter,

entry to the workplace.

1:04:541:04:56

That barrier must be removed.

1:04:561:05:04

A GCSE has already been piloted

and is largely ready to go.

1:05:041:05:10

The Department for Education must

make an exception to its blanket

1:05:101:05:13

policy of not allowing any new GCSEs

to be developed.?

1:05:131:05:17

My fourth and final point relates

to the special educational needs

1:05:171:05:19

and disabilities framework.

1:05:191:05:23

The Children and Families Act 2014

made significant changes

1:05:231:05:30

to the SEND framework.

1:05:301:05:39

One key change was replacing SEND

statements with EHC, education,

1:05:391:05:42

health and care plans.

1:05:431:05:45

The deadline for implementing those

changes is April next year.

1:05:451:05:47

There is a concern that many schools

and local education authorities

1:05:471:05:50

are struggling to implement

the changes in time.

1:05:501:05:54

In Suffolk, Ofsted and the CQC

identified weaknesses in the county

1:05:541:05:58

council's practices in meeting

the requirements of the Act.

1:05:581:06:02

Authorities such as Suffolk must be

provided with sufficient

1:06:021:06:04

funding so that they can

meet their obligations.

1:06:041:06:13

Although the high needs block,

1:06:131:06:14

which funds SEND support,

1:06:141:06:16

has been protected in cash terms,

it has not been adjusted to reflect

1:06:161:06:19

a variety of additional challenges:

the rising number of children

1:06:191:06:21

and young people requiring

additional support, the greater

1:06:211:06:29

local authority responsibility

for young children with SEND aged

1:06:291:06:33

between 16 and 25 and in early

years, and a trend towards placing

1:06:331:06:36

more children in special schools.

1:06:361:06:38

More money needs to be made

available and Ofsted needs to review

1:06:381:06:44

how it can strengthen

the accountability framework around

1:06:441:06:49

SEND and how it inspects schools.

1:06:491:06:57

In conclusion, Ann Jillings has gone

that extra mile and works

1:06:571:07:00

tirelessly to ensure

1:07:001:07:01

that Daniel gets the opportunity

to have the best possible start

1:07:011:07:05

in life and the best possible

education, so that he can

1:07:051:07:08

realise his full potential.

1:07:081:07:14

There are many barriers that have

been placed in her way

1:07:141:07:16

in pursuit of that goal.

1:07:171:07:18

I suggest that it is our duty,

the duty of Government and of local

1:07:181:07:21

authorities to remove those barriers

as soon as possible.

1:07:211:07:31

Kerry McCarthy.

1:07:341:07:36

It is a pleasure, as always,

to see you in the chair, Mr McCabe.

1:07:361:07:39

I thank my Honourable

1:07:391:07:40

Friend the Member for

Poplar and Limehouse

1:07:401:07:42

for securing this important debate.

1:07:421:07:43

The contributions so far

have been fantastic.

1:07:431:07:46

There are two issues in particular

that affect deaf and hard-of-hearing

1:07:461:07:56

First - the accreditation

of children's

1:07:571:08:02

hearing services, and second -

the cap on the Access

1:08:021:08:04

to Work scheme grants,

1:08:041:08:05

which have already been mentioned.

1:08:051:08:07

There are more than 50,000 deaf

children across the UK

1:08:071:08:09

and an estimated 794 deaf children

in the Bristol area alone.

1:08:091:08:12

For those children,

high-quality audiology services

1:08:121:08:13

are vital to carry out tests,

fit and maintain hearing aids

1:08:131:08:16

and provide rehabilitative support.

1:08:161:08:19

Despite that, the Government

have stopped mandatory

1:08:191:08:21

inspections of services,

instead replacing them

1:08:211:08:24

with the improving quality

in physiological services

1:08:241:08:27

accreditation programme.

1:08:281:08:33

Since the voluntary programme

started in 2012, only 15%

1:08:331:08:36

of children's audiology services

have achieved IQIPs accreditation.

1:08:361:08:42

You

1:08:421:08:42

That means that 85% cannot guarantee

that their service is good quality.

1:08:421:08:45

That lack of transparency

is unacceptable and leaves far too

1:08:451:08:49

many families in the dark

about the quality of their child's

1:08:491:08:53

audiology service.

1:08:531:08:56

Obviously, it is of immense

importance to parents

1:08:561:08:58

that their children have access

to good services.

1:08:581:09:01

Some services have stepped up

to the starting blocks

1:09:011:09:03

by signing up to the scheme,

such as St Michael's Hospital

1:09:031:09:07

in Bristol which serves my

constituents, and a few are nearing

1:09:071:09:10

the finish line and accreditation,

but too many are not

1:09:101:09:12

taking part at all.

1:09:121:09:16

The National Deaf Children's

Society, through its Listen Up!

1:09:161:09:18

Campaign, is calling

on the Government and NHS England

1:09:181:09:22

to make assessments of children's

?audiology services mandatory

1:09:221:09:24

and for information

from these assessments

1:09:241:09:26

to be publicly available.

1:09:261:09:28

I support that campaign and implore

the Government and NHS England

1:09:281:09:31

to implement changes to help ensure

that deaf children get the quality

1:09:311:09:34

of service they deserve.

1:09:341:09:36

That could make so much difference

to their future life chances.

1:09:361:09:41

The second issue is the cap

on Access to Work grants.

1:09:411:09:44

As we heard from my Honourable

1:09:441:09:48

Friend the Member for Poplar

and Limehouse, Access to Work

1:09:481:09:51

enables many disabled people

to overcome work-related

1:09:511:09:52

obstacles by providing

practical advice and support,

1:09:521:09:54

and grants towards extra

employment costs that

1:09:541:09:57

cannot be met by employers

as reasonable adjustments.

1:09:571:10:07

A Government review

in 2004, some time ago,

1:10:091:10:11

suggested that for every £1

1:10:111:10:12

spent on Access to Work,

£1.48 was generated

1:10:121:10:14

for the Treasury.

1:10:141:10:15

I am deeply concerned

about the effects of the cap

1:10:151:10:18

on Access to Work grants

that the Department for Work

1:10:181:10:20

and Pensions imposed

for new claimants in 2015

1:10:201:10:22

on the career prospects of deaf

and hard-of-hearing employees.

1:10:221:10:24

That cap is due to come

into force for existing

1:10:241:10:26

claimants in April next year.

1:10:271:10:32

It is currently set at £42,100

per year, which is one and a half

1:10:321:10:35

times the national average salary.

1:10:351:10:37

Although that may be enough

support for some people,

1:10:371:10:39

for others it is not.

1:10:391:10:45

I was contacted about this debate

by a deaf constituent who uses

1:10:451:10:48

British Sign Language and works

as a disability adviser

1:10:481:10:50

at an education establishment.

1:10:501:10:54

Access to Work helps him participate

fully and equally at work by paying

1:10:541:10:59

the cost of communication support,

namely, British Sign

1:10:591:11:01

Language interpreters.

1:11:011:11:06

Such support is inevitably

expensive, it is necessary

1:11:061:11:07

to pay people's

1:11:071:11:09

wages, so it is unlikely to be

classed as a reasonable

1:11:091:11:12

adjustment for his employer.

1:11:121:11:15

At the moment, he can access those

interpreters' support

1:11:151:11:18

throughout his working week.

1:11:181:11:21

The cap means that he will be able

to book interpreters for three

1:11:211:11:24

days a week at most,

leaving him with two

1:11:241:11:27

days when he will not

be able to communicate

1:11:271:11:29

with his colleagues and clients.

1:11:291:11:30

That means he will be unable

to do his job effectively.

1:11:301:11:35

Access to Work revolutionised deaf

people's career opportunities,

1:11:351:11:37

shattering the glass ceiling that

previously limited

1:11:371:11:39

them to manual jobs.

1:11:401:11:43

It is largely due to Access to Work

that deaf people have progressed

1:11:431:11:46

as far as their talent allows.

1:11:461:11:49

There are now deaf chief executive

officers, deaf intermediaries

1:11:491:11:52

working at the Ministry of Justice,

deaf theatre directors

1:11:521:11:54

and deaf social workers.

1:11:541:11:57

Yet research conducted earlier this

year by DeafATW found that the cap

1:11:571:12:00

on Access to Work grants is already

having a detrimental effect

1:12:001:12:03

on the deaf community.

1:12:031:12:04

We heard the figures

from my Honourable

1:12:041:12:09

Friend.

1:12:091:12:11

On behalf of my constituent

and all those in the deaf community

1:12:111:12:13

who have benefited or stand

to benefit from that scheme,

1:12:131:12:16

I implore the Minister to listen

to what is being said,

1:12:161:12:18

remove or raise the Access to Work

cap, and once again lift the ceiling

1:12:181:12:22

on the career aspirations of those

who are deaf or hard of hearing.

1:12:221:12:32

Penning.

1:12:321:12:35

It is a pleasure to serve

under your chairmanship, Mr McCabe,

1:12:351:12:37

and a pleasure to speak

in a debate secured by my good

1:12:371:12:40

friend the Honourable

1:12:401:12:41

Member for Poplar and Limehouse.

1:12:411:12:44

We have been on many campaigns

together over the years,

1:12:441:12:46

not least in our previous careers.

1:12:461:12:48

I need to declare an

interest at the outset.

1:12:481:12:50

I have been honorary patron

of the Hertfordshire Hearing

1:12:501:12:54

?Advisory Service, a fantastic

charity that works not only

1:12:541:12:58

in Hertfordshire but across many

counties, for more than 10 years.

1:12:581:13:00

I disagree with hardly anything that

has been said in this

1:13:001:13:03

really positive debate.

1:13:031:13:05

I think that people watching

and others will realise

1:13:051:13:07

that the House can work together not

only for people who are hard

1:13:071:13:10

of hearing, but for people

who are hard of hearing

1:13:101:13:13

and have other issues.

1:13:131:13:15

We have not discussed the fact that

people who are hard of hearing

1:13:151:13:19

or deaf often have other ailments,

which can be as difficult for them

1:13:191:13:22

as being hard of hearing.

1:13:221:13:29

I can assure Honourable

1:13:291:13:30

Members from experience that

Ministers usually do not like former

1:13:301:13:32

Ministers to stand up and talk

about things that they might

1:13:321:13:35

know something about.

1:13:351:13:39

For a short time, I was

the disability Minister

1:13:391:13:41

and responsible for Access to Work.

1:13:411:13:47

Let me be positive about Access

to Work and break some

1:13:471:13:49

of the taboos about it.

1:13:491:13:53

As we have heard, it is one

of the great schemes for people

1:13:531:13:57

across this great nation who had

been left behind, ignored and told

1:13:571:14:00

that they could not work.

1:14:001:14:02

Employers told people

that they could not employ them

1:14:021:14:04

because it was not safe to do so.

1:14:041:14:06

That was complete and utter rubbish.

1:14:061:14:08

I do not have to take the Honourable

1:14:081:14:10

Gentleman's word for it,

because there is evidence

1:14:101:14:13

in the Department for Work

and Pensions that people

1:14:131:14:15

with disabilities work harder,

are more likely to turn up for work

1:14:151:14:18

and are more dedicated and more

committed than any other employees.

1:14:181:14:22

That is a fact.

1:14:221:14:23

We know that.

1:14:231:14:24

I went around the country as part

of the disability confident scheme

1:14:241:14:27

trying to encourage employers

to take on people with all

1:14:271:14:30

types of disabilities.

1:14:301:14:31

That was pretty easy

with bigger companies.

1:14:311:14:35

There are some fantastic

large companies out

1:14:351:14:37

there-particularly Royal Mail.

1:14:371:14:39

It gets biffed around a little

at times in the House,

1:14:391:14:42

but its commitment to people

who either arrive with disabilities

1:14:421:14:46

or acquire disabilities during their

employment is fantastic.

1:14:461:14:51

However, it is really hard with

small and medium-sized enterprises.

1:14:511:14:55

There is a myth that there

is a risk: people say,

1:14:551:14:59

"Health and safety prevents me."

1:14:591:15:00

I was the Minister

1:15:001:15:01

with responsibility

for health and safety,

1:15:011:15:02

too, and I was happy to go around

and dispel that myth.

1:15:021:15:05

We have to work really

hard with SMEs.

1:15:051:15:08

Access to Work was fantastic

in helping thousands

1:15:081:15:12

of people to get into work

and have the confidence to stay.

1:15:121:15:17

The cap was brought in just before

I became the Minister responsible,

1:15:171:15:20

and one of the first things I said

was, "Where is the Department's

1:15:201:15:24

evidence that we need to do this

and that the cap will work?"

1:15:241:15:29

Let me

put this on the record:

1:15:291:15:32

there is evidence in the DWP,

1:15:321:15:33

the Department knows exactly

what it is, and it is

1:15:331:15:36

continually reviewed.

1:15:361:15:38

Ministers are taught always to say

at the Dispatch Box,

1:15:381:15:40

"The Government continue

to keep under review" this,

1:15:401:15:43

that or whatever.

1:15:431:15:45

I assure Honourable

1:15:451:15:46

Members that the Department keeps

that evidence under review.

1:15:461:15:48

It is a shame that my Honourable

1:15:491:15:50

Friend the Minister, who was my

Parliamentary Private Secretary,

1:15:501:15:52

is responsible for responding

to this debate, but the DWP,

1:15:521:15:55

which will see the record of this

debate, knows whether the cap

1:15:551:15:58

will work, is keeping it under

review and needs to be open

1:15:581:16:01

and honest about how it is working.

1:16:011:16:03

If it is not working,

it needs to be adjusted.

1:16:031:16:05

As a former Minister,

I will not have all that great work

1:16:051:16:08

and all those people's aspirations

and commitment to work lost

1:16:081:16:14

because of a cap that does not

actually save a huge amount of money

1:16:141:16:17

in real terms.

1:16:171:16:21

The right Honourable

1:16:251:16:26

Gentleman makes the same points

that we have all made.

1:16:261:16:28

Access to Work is a great scheme.

1:16:281:16:30

It works.

1:16:301:16:31

As I understand it, the logic

for the cap is that there is only

1:16:311:16:34

so much money in the pot-that

is always the case for

1:16:341:16:37

Governments and therefore

its purpose is to try to spread

1:16:371:16:39

what is available as

widely as possible.

1:16:391:16:41

But for people with fantastic talent

who could be advocates and champions

1:16:411:16:45

for the deaf community by becoming

chief executives and leaders

1:16:451:16:48

of their professions and so on,

the glass ceiling has been

1:16:481:16:51

reinforced, because they can

now get only £43,000.

1:16:511:16:59

This is not a criticism, well,

it is in some respects-but we need

1:16:591:17:02

to ensure that the evidence

is looked at regularly.

1:17:021:17:07

Governments need to be kicked

and beaten up when they get

1:17:071:17:10

things wrong and praised

when they get things right.

1:17:101:17:14

I was proud that

a Conservative Government

1:17:141:17:16

brought in Access to Work,

which is massively important.

1:17:161:17:20

There will always be examples

of abuse in the system and so on,

1:17:201:17:24

but that does not give

the Government carte blanche to say,

1:17:241:17:30

"No, the only way this can work

is with a cap," particularly

1:17:301:17:36

if the evidence does not show

that a cap will work.

1:17:361:17:39

The Minister will have looked twice

when he came into the Chamber

1:17:391:17:43

and realised what this debate

would mostly be about, which is not

1:17:431:17:46

his responsibility but the DWP's.

1:17:461:17:50

I am more than happy to go

across to my old Department and sit

1:17:501:17:53

with my old officials and explain

to them exactly where the evidence

1:17:531:17:56

is in their cupboards.

1:17:561:17:59

Let me touch briefly on two other

areas, and then on one thing that

1:17:591:18:03

has not been touched on at all.

1:18:031:18:08

I do not understand why,

in the 21st century,

1:18:081:18:11

a recognised language is not

recognised in the House

1:18:111:18:14

or across the country.

1:18:141:18:19

I really do not understand why,

all these years after I made a point

1:18:191:18:24

of order in the main Chamber in 2005

to complain that a hearing

1:18:241:18:27

loop was not available

for my constituents

1:18:271:18:29

when they were in the House-even

when it was installed,

1:18:291:18:32

it did not work properly-this

is the first time a debate has been

1:18:321:18:36

signed for our constituents.

1:18:361:18:42

People will always go on about how

that must cost more money.

1:18:421:18:46

The cost is minimal compared

with the benefit to our

1:18:461:18:48

constituents of being part

of the democratic process.

1:18:481:18:54

I thank the right Honourable

Gentleman for kicking off

1:18:571:18:59

about the induction loop years ago,

1:18:591:19:02

because I could not function

as an MP in the Chamber without it.

1:19:021:19:07

The things I do for

everybody in this House.

1:19:081:19:11

It was genuinely embarrassing.

1:19:111:19:13

I remember it vividly.

1:19:131:19:21

I said to the Speaker,

Michael Martin, "My constituents

1:19:211:19:23

have come to see this world heritage

site and their Parliament at work.

1:19:231:19:27

I took them on a tour,

and frankly they got hardly any

1:19:271:19:30

benefit apart from visuals,

because they couldn't

1:19:301:19:32

understand or hear

a word I was saying."

1:19:321:19:34

I seem to remember

1:19:341:19:35

that there was the comment,

from a sedentary position, "Well,

1:19:351:19:37

they didn't miss very

much," but I was trying to

1:19:371:19:40

get across a point.

1:19:401:19:43

This is the mother of Parliaments,

and as we have heard

1:19:431:19:46

from colleagues, we are way behind

the loop again.

1:19:461:19:49

I am sorry to use that terrible pun,

but we are really behind.

1:19:491:19:54

I hope that we will

have a lurch forward.

1:19:541:19:57

I have noticed all the Clerks coming

in, and have heard that the Speaker

1:19:571:20:00

will be reported to,

and all that, and that is great,

1:20:001:20:03

but it is absolutely

useless unless someone

1:20:031:20:05

actually does something.

1:20:051:20:06

Then we can move on.

1:20:061:20:08

I know this is a trial, but signing

should be transmitted live.?

1:20:081:20:12

Secondly, there should be a GCSE.

1:20:121:20:16

I find it fascinating: we can see

all the different courses

1:20:161:20:19

that our young people do in schools

and colleges, yet they are

1:20:191:20:22

excluded in this way.

1:20:221:20:29

If people do not want any more

GCSEs, we could drop one of the ones

1:20:291:20:33

that would not get used anywhere

near as much as this.

1:20:331:20:35

It would make people aware.

1:20:361:20:39

In my constituency, people

who are not deaf or hard of hearing

1:20:391:20:42

have said to me that they want to be

able to communicate

1:20:421:20:44

like this, they want to do

these courses as well.

1:20:441:20:47

They want to have a GCSE,

so that they can chat away

1:20:471:20:50

with their mates in that

sort of way.

1:20:501:20:52

That is a simple thing, and I cannot

see huge cost implications,

1:20:521:20:55

so it should be moved on,

as we have heard this afternoon.

1:20:551:20:59

Finally, I will touch on people

whose hearing has been impaired

1:20:591:21:04

by industrial injuries.

1:21:041:21:06

That has not been mentioned

at all in the debate,

1:21:061:21:09

but not because people think it

should not be.

1:21:091:21:11

It is just one of those issues.

1:21:111:21:16

People cannot see this type

of industrial injury.

1:21:161:21:20

It is not like the industrial

injuries that my Honourable

1:21:201:21:22

Friend the Member for Poplar

and Limehouse and I saw

1:21:221:21:25

in our former jobs as firemen.

1:21:251:21:28

There is something very wrong

about how we measure

1:21:281:21:32

industrial injuries,

and hearing impairment industrial

1:21:321:21:35

injuries in particular.

1:21:351:21:37

So many people who have a hearing

impairment do not admit it

1:21:371:21:42

to themselves, their wives

and their loved ones,

1:21:421:21:46

even though their wives and loved

ones are probably aware

1:21:461:21:48

that there is an issue.

1:21:481:21:49

They certainly do not talk

about it to their employer

1:21:491:21:52

or previous employers.

1:21:521:21:55

I can talk about this,

because my eardrum is perforated.

1:21:551:22:00

I did not know about that

until I started to miss

1:22:001:22:04

conversations that I thought

I should be picking up.

1:22:041:22:08

You just do not think

there is something wrong.

1:22:081:22:10

However, when I was a Minister

at the Ministry of Defence,

1:22:101:22:13

I had to have a medical before

I was allowed to go into operational

1:22:131:22:16

fields, and it was obvious that

I had a perforated eardrum.

1:22:161:22:22

It was almost certainly from live

firing when I was in the armed

1:22:221:22:32

forces, the specialists told me

that, although it was

1:22:321:22:34

not picked up then.

1:22:341:22:35

That is not so important to me,

but where industrial

1:22:351:22:37

injuries are common,

it is massively important

1:22:371:22:39

that there be a level playing

field on decibel levels.

1:22:391:22:42

Completely different levels are used

for hearing damage in the armed

1:22:421:22:46

forces and what I call civvy street,

and that cannot be right.

1:22:461:22:50

We must encourage people to come

forward, not so much

1:22:501:22:53

so that they can get compensation,

but because, as we heard earlier,

1:22:531:22:56

if we can pick this up earlier,

it saves the state and everyone

1:22:561:22:59

a lot of money, and also makes life

much better for that person,

1:22:591:23:04

who can start to accept

the disability that they have

1:23:041:23:08

and continue to live a happy life.

1:23:081:23:11

When I had the hearing test that

identified my audiological

1:23:141:23:16

loss, as the right Honourable

1:23:161:23:19

Gentleman will know,

the printout showed

1:23:191:23:21

whether it was down to age

or genetics, or whether

1:23:211:23:24

it was industrial.

1:23:241:23:27

Mine was at least partly industrial.

1:23:271:23:29

I was told by my clinicians,

"Your hearing loss is above

1:23:291:23:32

the threshold for applying

for industrial injury

1:23:321:23:33

compensation."

1:23:331:23:36

I never did, because I

had a great job here,

1:23:361:23:39

so I did not have to,

and it was not a matter of money.

1:23:391:23:42

I have always felt a bit difficult

about saying, "Well,

1:23:421:23:44

I should have gone

down as a statistic."

1:23:441:23:46

I am sure

that, as the right Honourable

1:23:461:23:48

Gentleman says, there are a lot

of us out there who have not

1:23:481:23:51

registered and do not appear

in the statistics.

1:23:511:23:53

The base statistics are only

of the people who absolutely needed

1:23:531:23:56

to make sure that they registered.

1:23:561:24:04

Thank you very much,

not Mr McCabe, but Ms Buck, I did

1:24:041:24:07

a quick double-take.

1:24:071:24:10

My Honourable

Friend has hit the nail on the head.

1:24:101:24:13

It is not just about the money.

1:24:131:24:14

Getting people in,

whether at pensionable age

1:24:141:24:20

or when they leave an employer

or the armed forces, is vital.

1:24:201:24:25

When I left the armed forces,

my hearing was not tested.

1:24:251:24:30

It was supposed to have been tested,

but it was not, and if anyone can

1:24:301:24:33

find a record of it being tested

then, I can take them on about that.

1:24:331:24:37

I am not raising the issue

of whether people are entitled

1:24:371:24:40

to compensation-that is someone

else's decision-but they are not

1:24:401:24:42

entitled to compensation

unless we get them tested.

1:24:421:24:45

If we can get them

tested, the specialists

1:24:451:24:47

will know, as my Honourable

1:24:471:24:48

Friend said, the cause

of the deafness.

1:24:481:24:55

There are myriad reasons,

but industrial damage

1:24:551:24:56

is pretty well defined.

1:24:561:25:04

I am thrilled that there are so many

people here on a Thursday

1:25:041:25:09

afternoon, the other

Chamber probably has half,

1:25:091:25:11

if not less than half,

the amount of people we have here.

1:25:111:25:13

Perhaps my Honourable

1:25:141:25:15

Friend and I might go back

to the Backbench Business Committee

1:25:151:25:18

to get a proper debate on the Floor

of the House on some

1:25:181:25:21

of the specifics we have discussed.

1:25:221:25:25

If necessary, that should

be on Access to Work,

1:25:251:25:28

because that is a life-changer

and has been for many people.

1:25:281:25:32

We must not lose that

life-changing ability.

1:25:321:25:35

I will sign this comment: "Today,

I will talk to you about deafness

1:25:461:25:49

and hearing loss in Scotland."

1:25:501:25:55

I will come back to my poor

attempt at signing later.

1:25:551:25:58

I wanted to speak about a number

of things, many of which have

1:25:581:26:01

already been mentioned.

1:26:011:26:02

I very much welcome this debate

and congratulate my Honourable

1:26:021:26:05

Friend the Member for

Poplar and Limehouse

1:26:051:26:06

on bringing it here.

1:26:061:26:08

Indeed, I commend him on the work

he has done through the all-party

1:26:081:26:11

parliamentary group on deafness

to raise this issue

1:26:111:26:13

across the House.

1:26:131:26:14

There are approximately

1 million people in Scotland

1:26:141:26:16

who suffer hearing loss,

and I am one of them.

1:26:161:26:19

About 15 years ago, I found

that my hearing was deteriorating,

1:26:191:26:23

and I did not do much about it,

I was just very irritating

1:26:231:26:26

to my friends and family,

not hearing things.

1:26:261:26:31

Eventually, I was persuaded

to get treatment.

1:26:311:26:35

I was diagnosed with degeneration

in the inner ear, an inherited trait

1:26:351:26:45

that means that I cannot hear some

frequencies, but I can hear others.

1:26:451:26:50

I hear some frequencies at full

volume, and others at just 30%

1:26:501:26:54

or 40%, which means I lose a lot

of the sense of what

1:26:541:26:57

people are saying to me.

1:26:571:26:59

I am beyond grateful to NHS Lothian

and our public health service

1:26:591:27:04

for what it has been able

to do for me.

1:27:041:27:07

I wear hearing aids,

like my Honourable

1:27:071:27:08

Friend, and the degree of technology

and sophistication in these little

1:27:081:27:13

things is quite remarkable.

1:27:131:27:16

There are mini-computers

in here that take in all frequencies

1:27:161:27:19

and decide to boost the ones that

I am weak on, which means that,

1:27:191:27:22

by and large, I can hear

relatively normally.

1:27:221:27:26

I also want to place

on record the efforts

1:27:261:27:28

of the House authorities.

1:27:281:27:32

In particular, I find

the loop in the Chamber

1:27:321:27:34

very effective indeed.

1:27:341:27:36

Of course, there are still

drawbacks, those who, like me,

1:27:361:27:39

wear hearing aids will be

aware of this.

1:27:391:27:44

For example, when I am

in the Chamber taking part

1:27:441:27:46

in a debate and I have them

on the setting for the loop,

1:27:461:27:49

if a colleague sitting

beside me says something,

1:27:491:27:51

I do not get it, I have

to reprogramme the aid

1:27:511:27:55

and try to find out

what they ?were saying-or quite

1:27:551:27:59

often I just nod and pretend I got

the gist of what they were saying.

1:27:591:28:06

I also notice that these aids

can be irritating to me

1:28:061:28:10

and others in close proximity,

because of the feedback

1:28:101:28:13

and whistling sound there

is sometimes, but it is worth

1:28:131:28:16

putting up with those minor

drawbacks to take advantage

1:28:161:28:20

of this great technology.

1:28:201:28:25

I got these hearing aids on the NHS,

and I was very grateful

1:28:251:28:28

indeed to receive them.

1:28:281:28:30

These instruments are

state-of-the-art technology that

1:28:301:28:34

match anything available

in the private sector.

1:28:341:28:38

In fact, I have friends who, either

through inclination or ignorance,

1:28:381:28:41

decided to go private,

and went to agencies on the high

1:28:411:28:45

street that retail hearing aids,

and their service is far

1:28:451:28:47

inferior to mine.

1:28:471:28:48

Eventually, on my advice,

they went to the local audiology

1:28:481:28:51

department and got better treatment.

1:28:511:28:54

That is just part of why

I have a particular

1:28:541:28:57

interest in the subject.

1:28:571:29:00

I am of course also mindful

that this is probably one

1:29:001:29:02

of the most common disabilities

that we as a species suffer.

1:29:021:29:06

More of my constituents probably

suffer hearing loss than voted

1:29:061:29:14

for me on 8 June, that is

how prevalent it is.

1:29:141:29:18

I want to spend a little time,

because others have mentioned it,

1:29:181:29:21

talking about the situation

in Scotland, particularly

1:29:211:29:25

with regard to BSL.

1:29:251:29:32

Any BSL users watching

what I did at the beginning

1:29:321:29:35

will understand that I cannot sign,

but I tried to learn that

1:29:351:29:39

opening line because I know

that, as time goes on,

1:29:391:29:42

I will want to learn BSL,

as it will be something that I rely

1:29:421:29:45

on in later years and is therefore

important to me, but it is important

1:29:451:29:49

to me in the here and now

because of so many people

1:29:491:29:51

for whom BSL is a vital

means of communication.

1:29:511:29:54

It has already been mentioned that

in 2015 the Scottish Parliament

1:29:541:30:04

passed the British Sign

Language Scotland Act.

1:30:051:30:07

A Labour MSP decided

to bring it to Parliament.

1:30:071:30:09

The Act was passed unanimously,

with all five parties

1:30:091:30:11

in full agreement.

1:30:121:30:19

A key thing that the Act did

was launch a process to establish

1:30:191:30:22

a national action plan to promote

and develop BSL in Scotland,

1:30:221:30:27

with the simple objective of making

Scotland the best place in the world

1:30:271:30:30

to be a BSL user and to

live, work and play.

1:30:301:30:40

I say that not to blow Scotland's

trumpet, although it is part

1:30:401:30:43

of my brief to do that,

and not to say that Scotland

1:30:431:30:46

is better than the rest of the UK,

but simply to say that if people

1:30:461:30:49

took the time and sat

down to talk about these

1:30:491:30:52

things and draw up a plan,

they would be surprised

1:30:521:30:54

at how much can be done.

1:30:541:30:57

I ask the Minister and

the Government to look

1:30:571:31:01

at the situation as it is developing

in Scotland and perhaps see how much

1:31:011:31:05

of that could be replicated UK-wide.

1:31:051:31:08

The national plan was

published in September.

1:31:081:31:12

It is quite detailed

and has 70 targets.

1:31:121:31:15

I will not go into them

all, it is available

1:31:151:31:18

on the Scottish Government website.

1:31:181:31:23

The process was really important.

1:31:231:31:27

Once time is provided

in a Parliament for a discussion

1:31:271:31:33

that leads to legislation,

because of the statutory force

1:31:331:31:36

of the discussions taking place,

things that people had never thought

1:31:361:31:40

about begin to go on the agenda

and come out of the woodwork.

1:31:401:31:43

It is a stimulus to all manner

of people in civic society

1:31:431:31:46

and in Government agencies

in thinking about how they can

1:31:461:31:48

improve the situation.

1:31:491:31:52

The plan of action has 70

detailed targets set

1:31:521:31:54

for the next three years.

1:31:541:31:56

I will give Members

a flavour of them.

1:31:561:32:01

The first is to look at how we can

build into the 2021 census

1:32:011:32:04

a question or series of questions

that identify in ?detail

1:32:041:32:07

the number of BSL users

taking part in the census,

1:32:071:32:11

so that we have the data

on which to plan in future.

1:32:111:32:16

Target ten talks about improving

access to early years services,

1:32:161:32:18

so that deaf children

can access them.

1:32:181:32:27

Target 16 is about removing

the barriers that prevent BSL users

1:32:271:32:30

from becoming teachers,

so that they can not only teach

1:32:301:32:33

in the medium of BSL, but teach

hearing kids through interpretation.

1:32:331:32:37

Target 25 is about targets

for colleges and universities.

1:32:371:32:42

Importantly, the next target makes

loans available for BSL students.

1:32:421:32:47

I am pleased to say that just this

week the Scottish Government

1:32:471:32:50

announced that loans will be

available for students in Scotland

1:32:501:32:52

to study throughout the UK

if the course is not available

1:32:521:32:55

in Scotland, so we now

have a situation in which we can

1:32:551:32:57

support BSL users who are students

in Scotland, but who are

1:32:571:33:02

able to go on courses

in England and Wales as well.

1:33:021:33:07

Target 39 is about making sure that

all our health screening

1:33:071:33:10

and immunisation programmes

have the medium of BSL built

1:33:101:33:12

into them, so that BSL

users have full access.

1:33:121:33:21

Target 48 is about sport,

and 53 is about placing obligations

1:33:211:33:24

on transport and our rail and bus

providers to make sure

1:33:241:33:27

they understand the needs of BSL

users and have it available

1:33:271:33:30

as a means of communication.

1:33:301:33:34

Target 57 is about

access to the arts.

1:33:341:33:38

Target 63 is about making sure

that our emergency services

1:33:381:33:41

understand the needs of BSL users

and have a facility to be able

1:33:411:33:44

to communicate with them.

1:33:441:33:51

Finally, the last one I picked out

is the target to improve electoral

1:33:511:33:54

participation and voting

in the political

1:33:541:33:55

process by BSL users.

1:33:551:34:01

There is a series of very good

targets, but probably the best thing

1:34:011:34:04

about them is the way in which BSL

users themselves have bought

1:34:041:34:07

into the process and have become

part of developing the action plan.

1:34:071:34:14

A full £1.3 million has been

provided to various deaf voluntary

1:34:141:34:17

organisations to monitor how

the targets develop

1:34:171:34:18

and are implemented.

1:34:181:34:26

In 2020 the intention is to come

back with a full Government review

1:34:261:34:30

across all agencies to make sure

we look at the next stage.

1:34:301:34:37

These are practical,

achievable steps that can be taken,

1:34:371:34:39

many of which do not involve

a lot of money.

1:34:391:34:42

They can be done

within existing budgets.

1:34:421:34:43

They require changes in attitudes.

1:34:431:34:48

We cannot overestimate

the importance of having a statutory

1:34:481:34:50

framework and setting all these

things down as targets

1:34:501:34:52

for Government agencies.

1:34:521:34:58

There is always pressure

on a legislative programme,

1:34:581:35:03

but a UK BSL Act that would do some

of those things would not take a lot

1:35:031:35:07

of parliamentary time.

1:35:071:35:09

It need not be a very

complicated Bill.

1:35:091:35:11

It could be focused.

1:35:111:35:18

Even if we have to give up three

hours of a Back-Bench debate or two

1:35:181:35:21

to get the measure through,

it would be worth doing.

1:35:211:35:24

I am sure that if the Government

were to take the initiative,

1:35:241:35:26

they would find all parties

commending them.

1:35:261:35:31

Several people have mentioned Access

to Work, but it is important

1:35:311:35:35

to stress that claimants who had

the benefit of the programme

1:35:351:35:44

and were not limited

until now, the cap applied

1:35:441:35:48

to new claimants, will be

1:35:481:35:49

subject to the cap as well.

1:35:491:35:54

That will mean that some people

who are in employment will have

1:35:541:35:57

to reduce or leave their employment.

1:35:571:35:59

That is the truth of the matter.

1:35:591:36:00

It might not be a great

number of people, but that

1:36:001:36:03

is what will happen.

1:36:031:36:04

I note that the DWP says that only

about 267 people will be

1:36:041:36:07

affected by the cap.

1:36:071:36:09

That is not a great number, but it

really looks like penny-pinching

1:36:091:36:11

when we compare it to

the scale of the DWP budget.

1:36:111:36:20

The early statistics

said that for every £1

1:36:201:36:22

spent on Access to Work,

the Treasury got a cost-benefit

1:36:221:36:24

analysis plus of £1.34 or £1.50.

1:36:241:36:34

The early statistics

said that for every £1

1:36:411:36:43

spent on Access to Work,

the Treasury got a cost-benefit

1:36:431:36:45

analysis plus of £1.34 or £1.50.

1:36:451:36:47

A lot of the people the Honourable

1:36:471:36:49

Gentleman describes are senior

professionals, chief

1:36:491:36:50

executives and so on,

who will be on a 40% rate of tax,

1:36:501:36:53

so it is an investment that

will give the Treasury more money

1:36:531:36:56

back than the basic

rate of tax does.

1:36:561:36:58

I could not agree more.

1:36:581:36:59

If somebody is in work and gets

support through the scheme,

1:36:591:37:02

not only are they earning money

and paying tax, but the people

1:37:021:37:05

who support them earn money

and pay tax as well.

1:37:051:37:07

There are all sorts of ways

in which this makes sense.

1:37:071:37:10

My key point is that given the small

number of people affected,

1:37:101:37:14

is the cap really worth it?

1:37:141:37:16

Would it not be better

to not have the cap,

1:37:161:37:19

and assess the situation later?

1:37:191:37:23

It is expensive because of

the nature of the support that

1:37:231:37:27

people need in this part

of the programme if they are

1:37:271:37:29

deaf and a BSL user.

1:37:291:37:35

It is expensive because that support

is undertaken by hard-working

1:37:351:37:37

professional people such

as the signers here today,

1:37:371:37:39

who have trained very hard

for the job that they do.

1:37:391:37:45

Perhaps in the future developments

in audio technology and computer

1:37:451:37:47

graphics will be such

that we will get an app

1:37:471:37:50

on our smartphone that will turn

speech into sign in a way that

1:37:501:37:53

works, but who knows?

1:37:531:37:54

That is for the future.

1:37:541:37:55

For now, we need professional

human beings to be able

1:37:551:37:58

to provide the service.

1:37:581:38:01

We should accept as a society

that for the limited

1:38:011:38:03

number of people affected,

the money is a price worth paying.

1:38:031:38:10

We could perhaps look at other ways,

rather than the cap and restricting

1:38:101:38:13

the services provided,

to reduce costs.

1:38:131:38:20

I want to finish by talking

about Parliament and some

1:38:201:38:23

of the things that we might be able

to do here.

1:38:231:38:27

It is wonderful that we have our

proceedings signed today.

1:38:271:38:30

I do not know why we do not

have a signer standing

1:38:301:38:37

beside the Speaker's Chair

and filmed for all the proceedings

1:38:371:38:39

in our Parliament.

1:38:391:38:40

When we think of the amount of money

we spend in this place,

1:38:401:38:43

the number of staff that we have,

the amount we spend on maintenance

1:38:431:38:47

and the amount we are going to spend

on refurbishment, it is not such

1:38:471:38:50

a big price to make sure that

during the 30 hours a week

1:38:501:38:53

or whatever when the Chamber

is in operation and debating,

1:38:531:38:56

there is a signer there,

signing for the people

1:38:561:38:59

in the Chamber, and,

more importantly, for the people

1:38:591:39:02

who watch live online or wish

to check back on proceedings.

1:39:021:39:08

Another thing that we could do has

to do with the scheme in Parliament,

1:39:081:39:15

which Members may be aware

of, I have not taken

1:39:151:39:17

advantage of it yet,

1:39:171:39:19

but I am sure others have, to get

tuition in a foreign language.

1:39:191:39:22

Why do not we add BSL to that?

1:39:221:39:24

Why does not each MP

have an opportunity to learn that

1:39:241:39:27

as part of our professional

development as Members

1:39:271:39:29

of Parliament, so that we are better

able to communicate with our

1:39:291:39:32

constituents, and more aware

of the technological needs?

1:39:321:39:38

My central point, which I

will stress as I end,

1:39:381:39:41

is that it is impossible

to overestimate the importance

1:39:411:39:43

of a legislative framework,

because of the sense of purpose it

1:39:431:39:46

creates for civil society

and statutory agencies,

1:39:461:39:47

and the sense of worth,

I suppose, that it gives to people

1:39:471:39:50

who are looking to us

to respond to their needs.

1:39:501:40:00

Teresa Pearce.

1:40:041:40:08

It is a pleasure to see

you in the Chair, Ms Buck.

1:40:081:40:15

I too express gratitude to

1:40:151:40:16

the Member for Poplar and Limehouse,

1:40:161:40:18

not just for obtaining the ?debate,

but for the work he has done

1:40:181:40:21

on deafness and hearing loss

for many years, he is a great

1:40:211:40:24

champion of the cause.

1:40:241:40:25

I also want to mention

the Honourable

1:40:251:40:27

Member for Rochester and Strood,

1:40:271:40:28

who shared her personal story.

1:40:281:40:30

I was struck by what she said

about her mother's isolation,

1:40:301:40:33

because my late mother-in-law

was one of the most sociable people

1:40:331:40:43

anyone could meet, show her

a piano and she would

1:40:461:40:48

play for two hours,

but

1:40:481:40:50

then she lost her hearing,

and with that, she lost her social

1:40:501:40:52

circle and became incredibly lonely.

1:40:521:40:54

We hear a lot about elderly

people being lonely,

1:40:541:40:56

and I wonder how much hearing loss

has to do with that.

1:40:561:40:59

The debate is very broad, as broad

as the challenges that people living

1:40:591:41:02

with deafness face, so I shall

confine my remarks to

1:41:021:41:05

two areas - the first

of which is cochlear implants.

1:41:051:41:08

A constituency case has been brought

to me by several constituents,

1:41:081:41:10

including the grandmother of Jacob,

who needs a cochlear implant.

1:41:101:41:15

He is profoundly deaf in the right

ear and severely deaf in the left,

1:41:151:41:20

he is four years old.

1:41:201:41:27

He has been tested by

St Thomas' Hospital cochlear

1:41:271:41:29

implant team, who supported

1:41:291:41:30

the case for an implant,

but the NHS has turned him down.

1:41:301:41:33

The family have been told

he can have the implant

1:41:331:41:35

only if they can raise £44,000.

1:41:351:41:36

My constituents are not the most

affluent in the country,

1:41:361:41:39

but they are truly wonderful,

and this will not be

1:41:391:41:43

the first time they have

crowd-funded help for someone.

1:41:431:41:47

Last year they helped a young

mother to get a second

1:41:471:41:50

stem cell transplant.

1:41:501:41:55

Their campaign, "Help Jacob Hear",

has run boot sales, raffles

1:41:551:42:05

and fetes and they've raised nearly

all the money, which is great

1:42:051:42:07

news, but it raises the question

what the NHS is for if it is not

1:42:071:42:11

to help children such as Jacob.

1:42:111:42:12

The spending of taxpayers' money

at this point would potentially be

1:42:121:42:15

handsomely repaid over the lifetime

of that young boy.

1:42:151:42:20

It might be expensive,

but what is the financial and social

1:42:201:42:23

expense of not funding it?

1:42:231:42:27

The second area I wanted to focus

on is Access to Work.

1:42:271:42:30

Quite a number of my constituents

are British Sign Language

1:42:301:42:32

interpreters, and many of them have

written to me.

1:42:321:42:42

One, Joanne, works regularly

with people who are helped by Access

1:42:421:42:45

to Work to participate equally

and fully at work.

1:42:451:42:49

In 2015 the DWP, as has been

mentioned, imposed a cap

1:42:491:42:52

on Access to Work awards,

1:42:521:42:58

and Joanna is worried

1:42:581:42:59

that the cap will act as a glass

ceiling on deaf colleagues'

1:42:591:43:02

and friends' career aspirations.

1:43:021:43:03

Those with hearing loss will not be

able to apply for promotions or look

1:43:031:43:06

to develop their career,

because the Access to Work support

1:43:061:43:09

will not be sufficient.

1:43:091:43:10

That means that they will be able

to book interpreters for perhaps

1:43:101:43:13

only three days a week.

1:43:131:43:14

What will happen

on the other two days?

1:43:141:43:16

Deaf professionals are left

at a disadvantage, experiencing

1:43:161:43:18

stress and frustration as it leads

to their being removed

1:43:181:43:21

from viable career paths.

1:43:211:43:22

The consequences can be reduction

of their working hours

1:43:221:43:24

and in some cases complete

removal from employment.

1:43:241:43:26

There are self-employed deaf

professionals in the arts who have

1:43:261:43:29

not been able to develop projects,

because of lack of access.

1:43:291:43:33

Research done by the group DeafATW

with people whose awards have been

1:43:331:43:37

capped already or are due to be

capped next year, shows a negative

1:43:371:43:41

impact on careers and aspiration.

1:43:411:43:43

Especially affected are deaf people

who are in or who aspire

1:43:431:43:46

to professional, managerial

or leadership roles,

1:43:461:43:50

or those who are self-employed

and who run their own business.

1:43:501:43:53

Another of my constituents,

Andrew, is deaf.

1:43:531:43:56

He uses British Sign Language

and works as a senior team

1:43:561:43:59

administrator with Surrey County

Council.

1:43:591:44:02

Access to ?Work pays

for the interpreters and note-taking

1:44:021:44:06

that make it possible for him

to communicate with colleagues,

1:44:061:44:08

customers and others,

and help him to participate more

1:44:081:44:11

fully and equally at work,

even though it does not stretch

1:44:111:44:14

to providing assistance at longer

meetings where it is impossible

1:44:141:44:17

to focus on the interpreter

and to take notes at the same time.

1:44:171:44:22

That said, it is likely

that the support that Andrew

1:44:221:44:24

gets via Access to Work,

which we all agree is a fantastic

1:44:241:44:27

system, is much more

than what would be seen

1:44:271:44:31

as a reasonable adjustment

for his employer to make.

1:44:311:44:33

In cases such as his,

Access to Work has revolutionised

1:44:331:44:37

the career opportunities for people

like Andrew, and shattered the glass

1:44:371:44:40

ceiling that previously often

limited people to doing manual jobs.

1:44:401:44:46

It has ensured progression for deaf

people that is based on talent,

1:44:461:44:49

which is as things should be.

1:44:491:44:52

There are now deaf chief executives,

deaf intermediaries working

1:44:521:44:55

at the Ministry of Justice,

deaf theatre directors,

1:44:551:44:58

deaf social workers and a deaf

senior team administrator

1:44:581:45:01

at Surrey County Council.

1:45:011:45:03

I am concerned that a new policy

will undo that good work.

1:45:031:45:10

In September, DeafATW ran

a survey among deaf people

1:45:101:45:13

about Access to Work.

1:45:131:45:14

Among those who will be subject

to the Access to Work cap from 2018,

1:45:141:45:18

nearly half said they would not

apply for promotion in future,

1:45:181:45:22

because they were worried that

in a new job they would not have

1:45:221:45:25

enough communication support

as a result of the cap.

1:45:251:45:28

For the same reason,

a fifth said that they had already

1:45:281:45:30

had opportunities to apply

for promotion, but had not done so.

1:45:301:45:33

Nearly half said that they would

stay with their current employer

1:45:331:45:36

as long as possible,

because they were worried

1:45:361:45:37

about what a new employer might

think about the effect of the cap

1:45:371:45:41

on their ability to do their job.

1:45:411:45:44

When talking about growth

we hear a lot about

1:45:441:45:46

the "productivity puzzle".

1:45:461:45:49

It is not much of a puzzle really

if we are limiting where people's

1:45:491:45:52

talent can take them

with such a cut.

1:45:521:45:58

In about a third of cases,

the employer was either taking

1:45:581:46:01

or thinking about taking action

to check whether the individual

1:46:011:46:04

could still do their job properly.

1:46:041:46:06

Deaf people fear that having

a capped award means

1:46:061:46:09

that they will not be able

to do their job properly,

1:46:091:46:11

and employers are

concerned about it too.

1:46:111:46:14

As a consequence, deaf people,

whether they are already subject

1:46:141:46:17

to a cap, are expecting to be

subject to one in 2018,

1:46:171:46:20

or are without a cap

in their current work,

1:46:201:46:22

have said that they are already

avoiding applying to work

1:46:221:46:24

in professional, managerial

and senior roles.

1:46:241:46:26

In 2015, the Government were clear

that a key challenge

1:46:261:46:34

in administering Access to Work

was managing a demand-led programme

1:46:341:46:37

within a defined budget.

1:46:371:46:40

They said "We must achieve a balance

between meeting customer need

1:46:401:46:42

and achieving value for money

for the taxpayer.

1:46:421:46:47

It has been a long-standing

aspiration of the programme

1:46:471:46:50

to support more disabled people

into work, so we must address

1:46:501:46:54

the challenge of supporting this

growth whilst keeping Access

1:46:541:46:57

to Work affordable".

1:46:571:46:59

I would say that it

is money well spent.

1:46:591:47:01

I could not find more recent

figures, but the Sayce report

1:47:011:47:04

in 2011 said that for every pound

spent £1.48 came back

1:47:041:47:07

to the Treasury.

1:47:071:47:11

That is clearly a case

of spending to save.

1:47:111:47:15

The Minister may be aware that

in July 2015 the Government

1:47:151:47:20

responded to the Work

and Pensions Committee report

1:47:201:47:23

entitled "Improving Access to Work

for disabled people".

1:47:231:47:27

The report was scathing

about the statistics, stating:?

1:47:271:47:31

"This lack of transparency

is unacceptable.

1:47:311:47:35

We recommend that DWP

change its approach to Access

1:47:351:47:37

to Work statistics and that,

as a minimum, it regularly publish

1:47:371:47:41

the following information:

an indicative annual budget, annual

1:47:411:47:46

expenditure outturns,

broken down by support element

1:47:461:47:51

and impairment type (including

autism spectrum disorders),

1:47:511:47:53

the number of service users by size

of employer, and employers'

1:47:531:47:56

mandatory and voluntary

financial contributions,

1:47:561:47:57

broken down by size of employer."

1:47:571:48:01

In their response, the Government

1:48:011:48:03

admitted that there was work to do

to meet those requirements.

1:48:031:48:07

Will the Minister now,

or perhaps by writing to me,

1:48:071:48:11

update us on progress

with the Access to Work statistics?

1:48:111:48:15

The previous Minister said

that there were a lot

1:48:151:48:18

of statistics available,

so I should be pleased to know

1:48:181:48:20

what progress has been made

in supplying the information.

1:48:201:48:27

Will the Minister also provide

figures to show the trend

1:48:271:48:29

in the number of deaf people

supported by Access to Work

1:48:291:48:33

prior to the introduction

of the cap, and afterwards?

1:48:331:48:40

The Select Committee also

highlighted a particularly strong

1:48:401:48:43

case for the DWP to improve

the accessibility of its

1:48:431:48:46

disability-related services,

recommending that it introduce

1:48:461:48:51

a video relay system to enable deaf

BSL users to contact

1:48:511:48:53

the Department more easily.

1:48:531:48:56

Has there been any progress on that?

1:48:561:48:59

By way of a reminder,

I noticed when I arrived

1:48:591:49:04

that there is a signer

for the debate, and I recalled that

1:49:041:49:07

when the Work and Pensions Committee

undertook a review of Access to Work

1:49:071:49:12

in 2015, we had a sitting when deaf

people came to give evidence,

1:49:121:49:18

and there were deaf people

in the Public Gallery, and no one

1:49:181:49:21

had thought to book a signer.

1:49:211:49:22

Luckily, one of my constituents

had come to watch.

1:49:221:49:25

He was a qualified signer,

and he took over and helped us.

1:49:251:49:29

In this place, sometimes

we do things very well

1:49:291:49:33

and sometimes we overlook things.

1:49:331:49:36

If a Work and Pensions Committee

looking into accessibility for deaf

1:49:361:49:41

people did not think

to have a signer, it goes to show

1:49:411:49:45

that we must do better on this.

1:49:451:49:48

Today's debate is a step forward.

1:49:481:49:51

It is a pleasure to serve

with you in the Chair, Ms Buck.

1:49:551:49:58

I am sure most of us know many

people who are affected to some

1:49:581:50:04

degree by hearing loss,

and we know the impact

1:50:041:50:06

it has on their lives.

1:50:061:50:09

In my own case, both my

parents were affected.

1:50:091:50:13

My dad, who died a couple of years

ago, had industrial deafness caused

1:50:131:50:16

by his work in a factory.

1:50:161:50:20

The effects of that

lasted a long time.

1:50:201:50:25

I welcome the comments

from the right Honourable

1:50:251:50:33

Member for Hemel

Hempstead, recognising

1:50:331:50:35

the industrial injuries aspect.

1:50:351:50:37

the industrial injuries aspect.

1:50:371:50:38

My mum resisted hearing

aids for many years,

1:50:381:50:40

but the difference they made

to her life when she

1:50:401:50:43

finally gave in was,

and continues to be, immense.

1:50:431:50:47

It is immense to us

as well, of course.

1:50:471:50:50

That is why I was so concerned

to hear from Action on Hearing Loss,

1:50:501:50:53

which I met recently,

that some clinical commissioning

1:50:531:50:56

groups are proposing restrictions

on the prescription of hearing aids

1:50:561:51:00

to people with mild

and moderate hearing loss.

1:51:001:51:03

Indeed, some have already done so,

including North Staffordshire CCG,

1:51:031:51:06

which was referred to earlier.

1:51:061:51:08

Not only do hearing aids make a real

difference to people with mild

1:51:081:51:12

and moderate hearing loss,

but research shows that they reduce

1:51:121:51:15

social isolation and depression.

1:51:151:51:18

New evidence also suggests they can

reduce the risk of developing

1:51:181:51:21

dementia, a study in The Lancet

recognised hearing loss

1:51:211:51:23

as potentially the largest

modifiable risk factor for dementia.

1:51:231:51:28

We can do something about it.

1:51:291:51:32

I hope the Minister will make clear

that hearing aids must be provided

1:51:321:51:35

where they are needed.?

As my honourable friend

1:51:351:51:42

the Member for Poplar and Limehouse

1:51:421:51:44

has clearly set out,

the cash limit on the Access to Work

1:51:441:51:50

scheme has also had a significant

impact on many people with hearing

1:51:501:51:52

loss, limiting their ability

to do their job properly,

1:51:521:51:55

or in some cases meaning

that they might not be offered jobs

1:51:551:51:57

because of the shortfall

in financial support.

1:51:571:51:59

I ask the Government to look again

at removing or raising the cap.

1:51:591:52:03

I also echo my honourable friend

1:52:041:52:08

call for further work

on implementation of the action

1:52:081:52:10

plan on hearing loss.

1:52:101:52:11

As he described, some good work

has been done already,

1:52:111:52:14

but I ask the Minister to ensure

that the Government step up

1:52:141:52:17

their work on implementing the plan.

1:52:171:52:21

In the summer, I met Erin,

a young woman campaigning with

1:52:211:52:26

the National Deaf Children's Society

to have British Sign Language

1:52:261:52:31

recognised as a GCSE and made

available to all students.

1:52:311:52:34

I join Erin, and the Honourable

1:52:341:52:38

Member for Waveney (Peter Aldous),

in calling for BSL

1:52:381:52:40

to be a GCSE subject.

1:52:401:52:45

It is a pleasure to serve under your

chairmanship today, Ms Buck.

1:52:511:52:54

I thank my honourable friend

1:52:541:53:00

the Member for Poplar

and Limehouse

1:53:001:53:01

for securing this debate.

1:53:011:53:03

This is one of those occasions

when the only suitable ministerial

1:53:031:53:05

and departmental response

to the words spoken in the debate

1:53:051:53:11

is urgent action to review,

reconsider and change course.

1:53:111:53:18

That means helping deaf people,

working across Government

1:53:181:53:22

instead of in silos,

and putting deaf people

1:53:221:53:25

at the centre of the

decision-making process.

1:53:251:53:30

I include an important area that

people have talked about quite a lot

1:53:301:53:34

today, the Department

for Work and Pensions,

1:53:341:53:36

where Access to Work

needs to be promoted, not capped.

1:53:361:53:42

Unfortunately, that cap will affect

so many of our deaf and hard

1:53:421:53:49

of hearing constituents when we come

to the end of the grace

1:53:491:53:53

period in April 2018.

1:53:531:53:57

I am the eldest child of deaf

parents, and I was their voice

1:53:571:54:01

and ears from a very young age.

1:54:011:54:05

That was invaluable to them,

enabling them to be easily heard

1:54:051:54:10

and understood in a hearing world.

1:54:101:54:14

My dad was born deaf and my mum

became deaf at four years of age.

1:54:141:54:20

I say that I was kidnapped

by the deaf community at birth,

1:54:201:54:25

because my culture, language

and community are theirs.

1:54:251:54:30

That poses me some difficulties

on occasion, because I can be very

1:54:301:54:33

straightforward in the way

I deal with matters.

1:54:331:54:43

My first language is BSL,

not Sign Supported English, most

1:54:441:54:46

people think that is BSL,

but it is not.

1:54:461:54:49

I was tempted to sign

my whole speech.

1:54:491:54:55

I was going to do that

and have the interpreters voice

1:54:551:55:01

over my comments for my colleagues,

to give everybody a feel for how

1:55:011:55:05

it is not to be able to communicate

directly-not for a minute,

1:55:051:55:09

not for a sentence, but for five

minutes or however long it takes me

1:55:091:55:12

to finish this speech.

1:55:121:55:15

Not to be able to communicate

directly with the person

1:55:151:55:18

we are talking to is really,

really strange and difficult.

1:55:181:55:23

Deaf people feel and experience that

every single minute of their lives.

1:55:231:55:28

My experiences and the communication

difficulties I saw led me,

1:55:281:55:34

when I was Lord Mayor,

to provide every deaf person

1:55:341:55:38

in Liverpool with a minicom.

1:55:381:55:41

We paid for them by getting

children in schools

1:55:411:55:44

to learn the deaf alphabet.

1:55:441:55:47

They saw it as a secret language

and really enjoyed it,

1:55:471:55:51

and I got minicoms for everybody

who was deaf in Liverpool.

1:55:511:55:55

Some might ask why

that was so important.

1:55:551:55:57

We talk about isolation,

but even though I thought,

1:55:571:56:01

as a product of that environment,

that I ?understood it,

1:56:011:56:07

I came home with a minicom

for my dad and gave it to him.

1:56:071:56:12

He looked at it and was so happy,

and then he took it and pressed

1:56:121:56:22

"Nine...nine.."

1:56:221:56:23

I said, "Whoa!"

1:56:231:56:26

And he said,

1:56:261:56:27

"Who else can I call?

1:56:271:56:28

Nobody else has got one,

only the emergency services

1:56:281:56:30

and the doctor."

1:56:301:56:31

I thought, "Right,

I get the message: every

1:56:311:56:33

deaf person in Liverpool needs one."

1:56:331:56:35

That made me realise that I needed

1:56:351:56:37

to get on with it and get

everybody a minicom.

1:56:371:56:41

Mobile phones have improved

the situation, but as the Honourable

1:56:411:56:46

Member for Milton Keynes

South has outlined,

1:56:461:56:48

we are not progressing

with transmission

1:56:481:56:49

services as we should.

1:56:491:56:52

I have known Chris Jones for many

years, and it is a really important

1:56:521:56:55

thing, but the agenda is so large

that we need Ministers

1:56:551:56:58

across Government to start

tackling it quickly.

1:56:581:57:04

Being able to communicate

is fundamental to someone

1:57:041:57:06

doing their job and doing

a good job.

1:57:061:57:11

The evidence is clear that Access

to Work is a system that

1:57:111:57:16

enables deaf people,

particularly those who use

1:57:161:57:19

BSL, to use their own

voices in the workplace,

1:57:191:57:23

with the communication

support they need.

1:57:231:57:29

When I think about it, I am probably

one of the first examples.

1:57:291:57:35

My dad was a plasterer

and he was so good-I genuinely mean

1:57:351:57:45

that, that directors

of building companies,

1:57:451:57:50

since they could not

phone him, used to come to my house

1:57:501:57:53

and sit down around the table.

1:57:531:57:55

As a child, from the age

of eight or nine onwards,

1:57:551:57:59

I used to sit on a Friday night

and instead of all the millions

1:57:591:58:02

of bits of paper going back

and forth, I was drafted in to be

1:58:021:58:05

the person from Access to Work.

1:58:051:58:07

My dad did really well.

1:58:071:58:08

He kept getting more and more money.

1:58:081:58:10

They wanted him, the prices went up,

and I did that every few months.

1:58:101:58:16

To me, the evidence is clear:

the cap does not simply hinder deaf

1:58:161:58:19

people's ability to do their jobs,

but will cause them to turn down

1:58:191:58:22

employment offers and promotions.

1:58:221:58:23

It might have meant that my dad

did not get such a good deal

1:58:231:58:26

on his next contract.

1:58:261:58:27

It leaves self-employed people

in a precarious position,

1:58:271:58:33

where the small profits they have

worked hard to earn go toward

1:58:331:58:35

expensive interpretation costs.

1:58:351:58:42

That is absolutely not

a cost-effective way to work.

1:58:421:58:46

The UK Council on Deafness found

that nearly half of those whose

1:58:461:58:49

income will be capped in April said

that they would not even apply

1:58:491:58:52

for promotion in future

because they worried

1:58:521:58:57

that they would not receive enough

communication support.

1:58:571:59:02

That presents barriers to those

aspiring to careers in professional,

1:59:021:59:04

managerial and senior roles.

1:59:041:59:05

I have a friend who was

the headteacher of a deaf school.

1:59:051:59:11

Without support, how will that

happen in the future?

1:59:111:59:16

We need to allow deaf

people to progress as far

1:59:161:59:18

as their talent allows.

1:59:181:59:19

I have spoken to many other deaf

people in lower roles

1:59:191:59:24

but who aspire to do better.

1:59:241:59:31

They have stopped looking forward

and now live every day

1:59:311:59:34

in fear that they may lose

the job they have.

1:59:341:59:38

Every day is a challenge,

especially if they lose that support

1:59:381:59:40

for two days a week.

1:59:401:59:44

We must all be clear that

deafness is not a limiting

1:59:441:59:47

learning disability.

1:59:471:59:52

There is no reason why deaf

people cannot secure

1:59:521:59:56

employment in senior roles,

so long as Government

1:59:561:59:58

decisions do not dampen down

the support that they require.

1:59:582:00:04

Central Government just cannot sit

back in the hope that employers

2:00:042:00:09

and the self-employed will simply

make up that two-day deficit

2:00:092:00:12

in support costs that the cap

is estimated to impose,

2:00:122:00:16

especially when employers

are already saying that they are not

2:00:162:00:19

confident about their businesses

employing a person

2:00:192:00:20

with a hearing loss.

2:00:202:00:27

We simply cannot waste

huge swathes of talent.

2:00:272:00:33

I know ?that, because my dad,

who was born deaf, was probably

2:00:332:00:36

one of the greatest men

I have ever known.

2:00:362:00:45

He was fantastically clever,

and he was deaf, but that did not

2:00:452:00:50

prevent him from doing anything

and we should not allow it to.

2:00:502:00:58

Sorry.

2:00:582:01:00

Does the Minister accept

that the cap reimposes limits

2:01:002:01:03

on the ambitions and financial

security of deaf people,

2:01:032:01:07

and leaves the next generation

without the belief or ability

2:01:072:01:10

to succeed in a 21st

century workplace?

2:01:102:01:13

They can.

2:01:132:01:19

My dad did it.

2:01:192:01:28

He has died now, he was 91,

but he did it before,

2:01:282:01:30

he was a trailblazer.

2:01:312:01:32

Do not stop the new trailblazers.

2:01:322:01:33

Help them to forge ahead.

2:01:332:01:34

It is also vital that the Minister

recognises that, outside this place,

2:01:342:01:37

the majority of British citizens

and employers lack awareness

2:01:372:01:39

of Access to Work.

2:01:392:01:40

That really helps to explain why

a recent labour force survey found

2:01:402:01:43

that 30% of working-age people

who identify themselves as having

2:01:432:01:46

a hearing loss are not employed,

I actually believe the proportion

2:01:462:01:48

is higher than that.

2:01:482:01:58

Does the Minister recognise the need

for a single gateway that

2:01:592:02:02

would provide assistance and advice

for employers seeking Access to Work

2:02:022:02:04

support for their employees

who are deaf or have a hearing loss?

2:02:042:02:11

I have listened to people refer

to deafness as an invisible

2:02:112:02:16

handicap, and it absolutely is,

it is an invisible disability.

2:02:162:02:21

However, that also means

it is an easy target for cuts,

2:02:212:02:26

especially in the NHS,

Education and the DWP.

2:02:262:02:31

We must guard against taking that

easy, quick solution in the hope

2:02:312:02:35

that deaf people and the hard

of hearing will not be able

2:02:352:02:39

to articulate the anger

they feel at their treatment.

2:02:392:02:44

I have two hearing aids,

and I ask the Minister:

2:02:442:02:47

if my hearing deteriorated to such

an extent that I needed

2:02:472:02:50

communication support

to do my job as an MP,

2:02:502:02:55

would these rules enable me to do

the job effectively?

2:02:552:02:59

If not, how is everybody else

supposed to do their jobs

2:02:592:03:01

under these rules?

2:03:012:03:05

Do the rules not jeopardise

employment, rather than helping

2:03:052:03:07

to increase it within the deaf

and hard of hearing community?

2:03:072:03:13

On a slightly different subject,

as I said before, my first

2:03:132:03:16

language was sign language,

and I was delighted that the Labour

2:03:162:03:19

party general election manifesto

earlier this year committed

2:03:192:03:21

to giving BSL full

legal recognition.

2:03:212:03:25

That would improve the structures

and the expectation of full language

2:03:252:03:31

access, through fully qualified

interpreters, in all

2:03:312:03:33

aspects of public life.

2:03:332:03:38

However, that leads to a question:

if the Government do not value

2:03:382:03:47

interpreters, how will that

encourage people to

2:03:472:03:49

take up those roles?

2:03:492:03:51

What will we do if people do not

learn BSL and are not

2:03:512:03:55

there as interpreters?

2:03:552:03:59

We already have cases of unqualified

people interpreting in courts.

2:03:592:04:03

That is wrong.

2:04:032:04:05

They have no idea about deaf

culture or the nuances

2:04:052:04:08

and what people really mean.

2:04:082:04:11

There is a difference

between somebody who is just

2:04:112:04:13

learning sign language and somebody

who is really fluent or speaks it

2:04:132:04:16

as a first language and understands

what a deaf person is really saying.

2:04:162:04:19

We need to value those interpreters.

2:04:192:04:29

My final question to the Minister

is -

2:04:312:04:33

does he agree that legal

2:04:332:04:35

recognition will provide another

means of improving awareness

2:04:352:04:42

of deafness and of the barriers that

deaf people and those with hearing

2:04:422:04:45

loss deal with in the workplace?

2:04:452:04:55

the reason I keep looking up this

because I keep hearing somebody

2:04:552:04:58

speaking there.

2:04:582:05:01

We need to ensure that Access

to Work is extended to many more

2:05:012:05:04

employers than the current miniscule

few who actually use it.

2:05:042:05:11

I do look forward to hearing

the Minister's reply.

2:05:112:05:15

Ultimately, he will be ?judged

on the ability of the deaf community

2:05:152:05:20

and those with hearing loss

to succeed and to realise

2:05:202:05:22

their potentials.

2:05:222:05:29

That means in every part

of their lives, particularly

2:05:292:05:31

in the workplace, education

and health, because without those

2:05:312:05:33

things, what are we to do?

2:05:332:05:35

Please give them the same

chances that we get.

2:05:352:05:42

Martyn Day.

2:05:422:05:45

It is a pleasure to serve

under your chairmanship, Ms Buck,

2:05:452:05:48

and to take part in this important

debate secured by the Honourable

2:05:482:05:53

Member for Poplar and Limehouse.

2:05:532:05:55

It has been a consensual

debate across the Chamber,

2:05:552:05:57

which is extremely welcome.

2:05:572:06:00

This will be the first time

that my words have ever been signed,

2:06:002:06:03

as well as it being the first time

in a parliamentary debate,

2:06:032:06:07

I certainly hope it becomes

a regular feature in Parliament.

2:06:072:06:10

It would be nice if the signing

was on the live feed,

2:06:102:06:13

not only on the re-broadcast.

2:06:132:06:17

I do not know whose remit

that is in, perhaps

2:06:172:06:19

the parliamentary authorities

or the Administration Committee

2:06:192:06:21

could discuss it further

with the broadcasters to see how

2:06:212:06:23

best we can implement that.

2:06:242:06:25

Again, I thank the Honourable

2:06:252:06:26

Gentleman for securing the debate,

it is a tremendous first.

2:06:262:06:29

I echo the calls from the Honourable

2:06:292:06:35

Member for Milton Keynes South

that providing sign

2:06:352:06:37

language interpretation should

become a regular feature.

2:06:372:06:40

Various Members have discussed

the multiplicity of Departments

2:06:402:06:43

responsible for this sphere.

2:06:432:06:51

If that is not simplified,

there certainly seems to be

2:06:512:06:54

a need for there to be,

at the very least, a clear,

2:06:542:06:57

identified lead Department.

2:06:572:06:58

That may be an easier route.

2:06:582:07:00

We have heard of the many day-to-day

difficulties experienced by those

2:07:002:07:06

who are hard of hearing,

one person in six is affected,

2:07:062:07:08

and they are less likely

to be in employment.

2:07:082:07:11

On the one hand, it is welcome news

that technology is making it easier

2:07:112:07:15

for people suffering from deafness

to work, while, on the other,

2:07:152:07:17

it is worrying that the cap

on Access to Work support has

2:07:172:07:20

disproportionately impacted

on those with hearing loss.

2:07:202:07:23

That point has been well made

and I do not need to emphasise it

2:07:232:07:28

further, the cost-benefit ratio

of £1 spent to £1.48 received says

2:07:282:07:32

it all, in financial terms.

2:07:322:07:34

Various Members have

given their personal

2:07:342:07:36

stories and accounts,

such as the Honourable

2:07:362:07:41

Member for Rochester and Strood.

2:07:412:07:42

I am also grateful to

the right Honourable

2:07:422:07:46

Member for Wolverhampton

South East for the case

2:07:462:07:48

he identified, which put a very

human dimension on to the issue.

2:07:482:07:51

I cannot imagine what it would be

like to not hear family or listen

2:07:512:07:54

to music, I have no comprehension

of how awful that would be.

2:07:542:07:57

However, there are ways

that we can help people,

2:07:572:07:59

and we should do everything we can

to ensure a better quality

2:07:592:08:02

of life for everyone.

2:08:022:08:03

Indeed, that is effectively

the challenge of today: to ensure

2:08:032:08:06

that deaf people can be fully

involved in daily and public life

2:08:062:08:08

as active, healthy citizens who can

make informed choices about every

2:08:082:08:11

aspect of their own lives.

2:08:112:08:20

My colleague

2:08:202:08:24

for Edinburgh East covered much

2:08:242:08:25

of what happens in Scotland,

but I will mention a few

2:08:252:08:27

of the points again.

2:08:282:08:29

The Scottish Government

have a British Sign Language

2:08:292:08:30

national plan, which,

as has been said, aims to make

2:08:302:08:33

Scotland the best place in the world

for BSL users to live,

2:08:332:08:36

work and visit.

2:08:362:08:37

It seems to be a regular feature

?in debates that I am always telling

2:08:372:08:40

people to visit my constituency,

so I might as well

2:08:402:08:43

emphasise this again -

it is a great place,

2:08:432:08:45

If you have not been, do come.

2:08:452:08:49

The British Sign Language Scotland

Act 2015 requires public bodies

2:08:492:08:52

in Scotland to publish plans for how

they will promote and support

2:08:522:08:55

BSL every six years.

2:08:552:08:56

The first national plan covers

the Scottish Government,

2:08:562:08:58

and other public bodies,

including councils, NHS boards,

2:08:582:09:00

colleges and universities,

will publish plans next year.

2:09:002:09:03

The national plan, which runs

from 2017-23, is the first

2:09:032:09:06

of its kind in the UK and sets out

ten long-term goals for BSL

2:09:062:09:09

in Scotland, covering early

years and education,

2:09:092:09:11

training and work, health,

mental health and wellbeing,

2:09:112:09:14

transport, culture and the arts,

justice and democracy.

2:09:142:09:16

It describes 70 actions

Scottish Ministers will take

2:09:162:09:19

by 2020, whereafter a progress

report shall be published

2:09:192:09:24

and a further set of actions

for delivery by 2023

2:09:242:09:26

will be identified.

2:09:262:09:27

My honourable friend

2:09:272:09:34

from Edinburgh East mentioned

several of those key

2:09:342:09:36

actions, so I will not repeat them.

2:09:362:09:38

However, I can think of a 71st

action that might feed into the next

2:09:382:09:41

round for the Scottish Government

and might be one we should take

2:09:412:09:44

forward in this Parliament,

and that is what we as individual

2:09:442:09:47

elected Members do

to facilitate that.

2:09:472:09:48

In preparing for the debate,

I thought about what we do on home

2:09:482:09:51

visits and for people

visiting our constituency offices.

2:09:512:09:53

There are a number of issues,

and we may need parliamentary

2:09:532:09:56

guidance on how best to service

all our constituents

2:09:562:09:58

with their inquiries.

2:09:582:09:59

In Scotland, a lot of

it is about attitude,

2:09:592:10:01

but our plan is also

backed up by money.

2:10:012:10:03

£1.3 million has been

put in to support it.

2:10:032:10:07

That is not a grand amount,

but it is enough to do

2:10:072:10:10

a fair amount of work.

2:10:102:10:12

Dr Terry Riley, chair

of the British Deaf Association,

2:10:122:10:14

said that the Scottish

Government's national plan is

2:10:142:10:16

"A brilliant example for the rest

of the United Kingdom to follow."

2:10:162:10:19

I hope that Ministers

will have a look at what we

2:10:192:10:22

are doing in Scotland.

2:10:222:10:23

I have a copy of the plan here,

if anyone wants it.

2:10:232:10:27

I am not hard of hearing,

but I am poor of vision,

2:10:272:10:30

and I am pleased to say

that the plan is in quite

2:10:302:10:33

large print, so it suits

the likes of myself to a tee.

2:10:332:10:36

It is not just through

the BSL national plan

2:10:362:10:39

that the Scottish Government

are taking action to help.

2:10:392:10:41

The disability delivery plan

is another way that we can help

2:10:412:10:44

by removing barriers and promoting

independent living, with a key

2:10:442:10:46

target being a reduction

in the employment gap

2:10:462:10:49

between disabled people

and the rest of the population.

2:10:492:10:53

It has been highlighted today that

deaf people are not in as great

2:10:532:10:57

an employment position as other

members of society.

2:10:572:11:02

The Scotland Act 2016 devolved

a number of powers to set up

2:11:022:11:07

employment schemes to assist those

at risk of becoming long-term

2:11:072:11:10

unemployed and to help

disabled people into work,

2:11:102:11:12

including schemes that

seek to help employers

2:11:122:11:14

to find suitable employees.

2:11:142:11:20

As a result, Fair Start Scotland

will operate from 2018 for three

2:11:202:11:23

years, with the aim of helping

a minimum of 38,000

2:11:232:11:25

people into work.

2:11:252:11:28

I hope that a number of those

will be deaf people and those

2:11:282:11:31

who are hard of hearing.

2:11:312:11:32

At a UK level, more needs to be done

to address the gender,

2:11:322:11:36

race and disability pay gap

and tackle pay inequality

2:11:362:11:38

and occupational segregation.

2:11:382:11:42

To that end, I support

extension of pay gap

2:11:422:11:44

reporting to cover gender,

?race and disability.

2:11:442:11:47

I am keen to hear the Minister's

thoughts on that.

2:11:472:11:50

Better and more statistics

could help us greatly in this cause.

2:11:502:11:55

I would also like to hear

from the Minister on EU law,

2:11:552:12:00

which has played a huge role

in upholding the rights

2:12:002:12:02

of disabled people.

2:12:032:12:06

Those rights must be

protected post-Brexit.

2:12:062:12:11

There are many examples,

but of particular importance

2:12:112:12:13

to the deaf community

are the employment equality

2:12:132:12:15

directive of 2000 and the public

sector websites and mobile

2:12:152:12:17

applications directive of 2016,

which requires public sector bodies

2:12:172:12:19

to ensure that their websites

and mobile apps comply

2:12:192:12:21

with accessibility standards

so that they can be used

2:12:212:12:24

by disabled people.

2:12:242:12:28

As well as protecting

existing EU measures,

2:12:282:12:30

it is important to ensure

that the UK is not left behind.

2:12:302:12:34

For example, the European

Accessibility Act is being

2:12:342:12:38

negotiated at an EU level.

2:12:382:12:45

The Equality and Human Rights

Commission has said that the Act

2:12:452:12:49

will benefit disabled people

by providing common rules

2:12:492:12:52

on accessibility in relation

to computers and operating systems,

2:12:522:12:55

ATMs, ticketing and check-in

machines, smartphones,

2:12:552:12:57

TV equipment related to digital

television services, telephony

2:12:572:12:58

services and related equipment.

2:12:592:13:04

It would be great to know

what the UK proposals are for those

2:13:042:13:07

areas in the future.

2:13:072:13:09

It would be tremendous

if the Minister looked into that.

2:13:092:13:12

There is much we can learn

from different countries.

2:13:122:13:15

My honourable friend

2:13:152:13:17

the Member for Edinburgh East

and I have mentioned

2:13:172:13:19

what is happening in Scotland,

and the Honourable

2:13:192:13:21

Member for Milton Keynes South

mentioned some of the things

2:13:212:13:24

happening in Australia.

2:13:242:13:25

There is a lot we can learn,

and I look forward to hearing

2:13:252:13:28

the other winding-up speeches

and seeing this go further forward.

2:13:282:13:30

Julie Cooper.

2:13:312:13:35

It is a pleasure to serve

under your chairmanship, Ms Buck.

2:13:352:13:39

I thank my honourable friend

2:13:392:13:45

the Member for Poplar and Limehouse

2:13:452:13:47

for bringing this important subject

to our attention.

2:13:472:13:49

I begin by saying how

delighted I am to see

2:13:492:13:51

that we have a signer in the room.

2:13:512:13:53

It must be really easy

for us to extend that

2:13:532:13:55

service across the business

of the House-that would be a really

2:13:552:13:58

quick win, I think we all agree.

2:13:582:14:02

It is a real privilege

to respond to the debate

2:14:022:14:06

on behalf of the Opposition.

2:14:062:14:11

I have been genuinely moved by some

of the powerful and personal

2:14:112:14:14

speeches we have heard today.

2:14:142:14:17

They prepared me far

better for my contribution

2:14:172:14:19

than the research I did ahead

of the debate.

2:14:192:14:22

We can look at the statistics,

such as the fact that 11 million

2:14:222:14:28

people in the UK are living

with deafness, but we have heard

2:14:282:14:31

today about the extent of it.

2:14:312:14:37

The Honourable

Member for Rochester and Strood

2:14:372:14:43

courageously shared

a very personal story

2:14:432:14:44

and enriched the debate.

2:14:442:14:47

We thank her for that.

2:14:472:14:49

My right honourable friend

2:14:492:14:51

the Member for

Wolverhampton South East

2:14:512:14:54

talked movingly of his constituent.

2:14:542:14:56

We heard about a family having

to raise £44,000 to let

2:14:562:15:00

a little four-year-old boy

have a chance in life.

2:15:002:15:07

I think we all agree

that we must do more.

2:15:072:15:12

The best thing about the debate

is that it has raised

2:15:122:15:14

awareness of a massive issue.

2:15:142:15:20

We are talking about deafness

and hearing loss, people

2:15:202:15:25

who were born deaf and people

who become deaf, sometimes

2:15:252:15:28

through illness and sometimes

through the ageing process,

2:15:282:15:38

and how are we going to support them

all, beginning with the children.

2:15:382:15:44

The fact ?that only a third

of screening processes for newborn

2:15:442:15:51

babies are up to standard

and accredited is of great concern.

2:15:512:15:59

That needs to be addressed,

and soon Bearing in mind that 50,000

2:15:592:16:02

children in the UK are deaf,

we must serve them well and make

2:16:022:16:09

sure they are not isolated.

2:16:092:16:12

We must make sure that

their isolation does not

2:16:122:16:18

begin with being isolated

from their parents.

2:16:182:16:25

The majority, 90% of children born

deaf are born to hearing parents.

2:16:252:16:29

If their parents are not supported,

there are implications for

2:16:292:16:31

the child's language development.

2:16:312:16:36

We know there are ways of providing

support, such as radio aids,

2:16:362:16:40

and we must make that available

to parents and support them.

2:16:402:16:44

We hear a lot in the House

about early intervention

2:16:442:16:48

for all children to address

all issues in the early years,

2:16:482:16:52

and there can be no more important

an issue to address than this.

2:16:522:16:56

My honourable friend

2:16:562:17:02

the Member for West Lancashire

2:17:022:17:03

stressed powerfully that deaf

children and deaf adults do not have

2:17:032:17:06

learning disabilities.

2:17:062:17:08

Our education system

must address this.

2:17:082:17:14

It cannot be right that deaf

children are 42% less likely

2:17:142:17:19

to get five decent GCSEs.

2:17:192:17:22

We are hindering their progress

for life at that early stage.

2:17:222:17:28

I was alarmed to learn that

since 2011, the number of specialist

2:17:282:17:33

teachers for the deaf has

reduced by 12%.

2:17:332:17:37

That cannot be

the right way forward.

2:17:372:17:41

Members have rightly

stressed the importance

2:17:412:17:42

of British Sign Language.

2:17:422:17:46

I have to admit, I never

realised until this week-I

2:17:462:17:50

never thought it through,

and I am sure I am not the only

2:17:502:17:55

one, that British Sign Language

is some people's first language.

2:17:552:17:59

I thought of it as something

separate that helped, but this

2:17:592:18:03

debate has increased my awareness.

2:18:032:18:07

The more this is talked

about, the better.

2:18:072:18:10

It is vital that BSL is taken

seriously and given recognition.

2:18:102:18:15

The UK is a signatory to the UN

convention on the rights

2:18:152:18:18

of persons with disabilities,

but we must do more and give

2:18:182:18:22

this language the equal

validation it deserves.

2:18:222:18:25

Why can British Sign Language

not be a GCSE subject?

2:18:252:18:30

I know this is beyond the remit

of the Minister and his Department,

2:18:302:18:33

but I am sure he will pass it

on to his colleagues

2:18:332:18:36

in the Department for Education.

2:18:362:18:39

If BSL were a GCSE subject,

people would take it seriously,

2:18:392:18:41

more people would learn it

and there would be more access

2:18:412:18:44

to it, and therefore deaf

people would be able

2:18:442:18:46

to participate more fully.

2:18:472:18:52

Members have rightly

mentioned the human cost

2:18:522:18:57

as well as the financial cost

of isolation not being addressed.

2:18:572:19:04

The health statistics

are quite clear-for example,

2:19:042:19:09

on the number of people who retire

early or suffer from anxiety

2:19:092:19:13

and depression because they can no

longer cope in the world of work.

2:19:132:19:17

As has been mentioned, many elderly

people who lose their hearing

2:19:172:19:23

lose their social circle and cannot

communicate with family.

2:19:232:19:27

There is the cost of not

supporting them with hearing

2:19:272:19:29

aids and, as the Honourable

2:19:292:19:34

Member for Milton

Keynes South mentioned,

2:19:342:19:37

with a telecommunications relay

service.

2:19:372:19:46

We should be looking

into such systems to maximise

2:19:462:19:48

inclusion for old people.

2:19:482:19:54

The world of work is

obviously a massive issue.

2:19:542:19:59

The Access to Work scheme

is absolutely brilliant.

2:19:592:20:03

It is shocking that it is probably

the DWP's best kept secret.

2:20:032:20:10

I recently hosted a Disability

Confident employers event,

2:20:102:20:15

and many of the employers admitted

that they had not known

2:20:152:20:18

about the scheme at all.

2:20:182:20:21

There are two aspects to the world

of work when it comes to deafness.

2:20:212:20:27

The person ?who is deaf

or hard of hearing needs

2:20:272:20:33

support to cope at work,

and the employer in particular,

2:20:332:20:36

the small or medium-sized

employer-needs support to understand

2:20:362:20:39

that that need not

disadvantage their business.

2:20:392:20:48

As has rightly been mentioned,

I think my right honourable friend

2:20:482:20:56

the Member for Nottingham East said

2:20:562:20:59

this, when a disabled person

is employed and supported

2:20:592:21:01

in their workplace, it

reduces workforce churn.

2:21:012:21:03

The support does not

have to be expensive.

2:21:032:21:05

Sometimes it is about awareness,

moving someone's seat

2:21:052:21:07

so that they can lip-read,

or letting them sit in a quiet

2:21:072:21:10

corner of the office

where background noise is not such

2:21:102:21:14

an issue for them.

2:21:152:21:19

The message from the Government

about Disability Confident employers

2:21:192:21:25

is very strong and very useful,

but now, with the capping

2:21:252:21:32

of Access to Work support,

they seem to be sending

2:21:322:21:35

a contradictory message.

2:21:352:21:38

Can we afford not to

support people in work?

2:21:382:21:41

What is the cost of

not supporting them?

2:21:412:21:43

What a loss of talent.

2:21:432:21:47

As we have said, this debate

covers many areas and not

2:21:472:21:52

just one Department,

but not least is the Department

2:21:522:21:57

responsible for economic

development, because what is

2:21:572:21:59

the cost to our economy of not

utilising and maximising

2:21:592:22:03

the potential of all our citizens,

including people who are deaf

2:22:032:22:07

or hard of hearing?

2:22:072:22:10

What can we do?

2:22:102:22:18

What concrete action can we take?

2:22:182:22:21

The recommendations in the 2015

action plan were very welcome.

2:22:212:22:24

I think there is agreement on both

sides of the House that

2:22:242:22:29

that is a sensible plan,

so let us see it put into action.

2:22:292:22:35

The "What Works" guides published

this year were an excellent piece

2:22:352:22:38

of work that we need to build on.

2:22:382:22:45

Concrete action is

needed at every stage.

2:22:452:22:47

We need to ensure that newborn

babies are properly screened

2:22:472:22:51

and that the screening is always

of high quality.

2:22:512:22:54

We need to support parents of deaf

children with early intervention.

2:22:542:22:58

We need to support schools

and ensure that there are specialist

2:22:582:23:02

teachers and that children are not

allowed to feel like

2:23:022:23:08

second-class citizens.

2:23:082:23:11

We need to promote British Sign

Language in schools and allow it

2:23:112:23:17

to become a GCSE subject.

2:23:172:23:23

We should look to the Scottish

example, an excellent job

2:23:232:23:25

is obviously being done there.

2:23:252:23:28

As someone who is half-Scottish,

I say, "If the Scots can do it,

2:23:282:23:31

so can we," and I am sure we will do

it at least as well.

2:23:312:23:34

We must ensure that equipment

is enhanced and not restricted.

2:23:342:23:40

I was shocked to hear of clinical

commissioning groups that

2:23:402:23:43

are beginning to restrict

the provision of hearing aids.

2:23:432:23:46

The criteria for cochlear

implants must be reviewed.

2:23:462:23:51

We must look to aid people's hearing

and support them to live full lives,

2:23:512:23:57

rather than looking for ways

to limit them.

2:23:572:24:02

We have to go back and

review those criteria.

2:24:022:24:04

Let us invest in unlocking

the potential of the deaf

2:24:042:24:06

and the hard of hearing.

2:24:062:24:11

Our economy depends

on the talents of all our people.

2:24:112:24:16

The cost of not acting not only

causes misery for individuals

2:24:162:24:20

who are discriminated

against and excluded from society

2:24:202:24:23

and the world of work,

but stores up for the future huge

2:24:232:24:27

costs for our health,

support services and,

2:24:272:24:29

of course, our economy.

2:24:292:24:33

The failure to support deaf people

to fulfil their potential

2:24:332:24:35

is costing the economy.

2:24:352:24:38

We cannot afford not to act.

2:24:382:24:46

I thank all Honourable

2:24:472:24:49

Members very much for

their contributions.

2:24:492:24:54

There are many ways I could spend

a Thursday afternoon,

2:24:542:24:57

but I have really enjoyed this

?debate and I have learned a lot.

2:24:572:25:01

This has been a consensual debate,

and I thank the shadow

2:25:012:25:03

Minister, the Honourable

2:25:032:25:07

Member for Burnley,

for the excellent

2:25:072:25:08

tone of her comments.

2:25:082:25:10

I really enjoyed what

she had to say as well.

2:25:102:25:12

Like everyone else,

I congratulate the Honourable

2:25:122:25:15

Member for Poplar and

Limehouse on securing

2:25:152:25:17

the debate through the Backbench

Business Committee,

2:25:172:25:19

and also our signers.

2:25:192:25:20

Thank you for doing what is a first

and for working so hard.

2:25:202:25:24

I cannot sign, but I can imagine

that it is quite hard work

2:25:242:25:27

to do it for three hours.

2:25:272:25:29

There are two signers

and they have worked really hard.

2:25:292:25:32

Thank you for that.

2:25:322:25:35

I do not have a hearing problem,

but I do have a sight problem,

2:25:352:25:39

which is why I have a lectern

in front of me.

2:25:392:25:42

The papers are far too far

away from me without it,

2:25:422:25:45

which is why I always put

it into play.

2:25:452:25:47

I thank the all-party

parliamentary group on deafness,

2:25:472:25:51

a number of whose members have

spoken today, for all the work

2:25:512:25:54

that it does in the House in raising

awareness and improving the way

2:25:542:25:57

we provide support.

2:25:572:25:58

I cannot remember in my time in

the House a debate on this subject,

2:25:582:26:01

so it was certainly long overdue.

2:26:012:26:03

All-party groups can do this,

the Backbench Business

2:26:032:26:05

Committee is excellent.

2:26:052:26:06

As we have heard, hearing loss

is widespread, affecting one in six

2:26:062:26:09

of the UK population,

and it has a massive

2:26:092:26:12

impact on the lives

of our constituents and,

2:26:122:26:17

indeed, some Members of the House.

2:26:172:26:18

We have heard today really

incredible contributions

2:26:182:26:22

and I agree with the Honourable

2:26:222:26:28

Member for Burnley, really

moving contributions,

2:26:282:26:30

especially from the Honourable

2:26:302:26:35

Member for West Lancashire.

2:26:352:26:40

There was not a dry eye in the House

when she was speaking, thank

2:26:402:26:43

you for the way you put things.

2:26:432:26:45

I was going to intervene to give her

a chance to have a drink,

2:26:452:26:48

but she was brilliant in the way

she put things.

2:26:482:26:50

I thank her for that.

2:26:502:26:52

I shall highlight the key steps

that the Government are taking

2:26:522:26:54

to support those with hearing loss

and deafness and then move

2:26:542:26:57

on to the other important points

raised by Honourable

2:26:572:26:59

Members during the debate.

2:26:592:27:00

I apologise in advance in case

I do not cover them all,

2:27:002:27:03

I will write to Honourable

2:27:032:27:04

Members about any points

that are not covered.

2:27:042:27:06

As we heard from the Honourable

2:27:062:27:08

Member for Poplar and Limehouse,

in March 2015 the Department

2:27:082:27:10

of Health and NHS England published

"Action Plan on Hearing Loss".

2:27:102:27:13

That is a statement

of intent for action

2:27:132:27:15

across the health and care sector.

2:27:152:27:18

There is an ongoing programme

of work that the action

2:27:182:27:20

plan has initiated.

2:27:202:27:21

There are 20 separate outcome

measures, which the Honourable

2:27:212:27:23

Gentleman touched on.

2:27:232:27:28

In September 2017, working

with the Department for Work

2:27:282:27:30

and Pensions, the Department

for Education and hearing loss

2:27:302:27:34

charities, NHS England issued

a series of "What Works" guides,

2:27:342:27:36

providing examples of what we know

works in supporting

2:27:362:27:38

individuals with hearing loss

throughout their lives.

2:27:382:27:40

Those guides, aimed

at organisations, providers

2:27:402:27:42

and commissioners, cover hearing

loss and employment,

2:27:422:27:44

the transition to adulthood

for young people with hearing loss,

2:27:442:27:47

and hearing loss and healthy ageing.

2:27:472:27:51

A key point in the plan

is the need for clear

2:27:512:27:54

guidance for commissioners,

and in July 2016 NHS England

2:27:542:28:02

published the Commissioning Services

for People with Hearing Loss:

2:28:022:28:08

A framework for clinical

commissioning ?groups

2:28:082:28:10

snappy titles

2:28:102:28:11

we do not do in the NHS,

as I have learned since arriving

2:28:112:28:14

there as a Minister.

2:28:142:28:16

As the Minister responsible

for public health, I am very pleased

2:28:162:28:18

that that framework recognises

hearing loss as a "major

2:28:182:28:21

public health challenge",

because that is exactly what it is.

2:28:212:28:23

The framework is a major step

forward in focusing local

2:28:232:28:25

commissioners on tackling

uncorrected hearing loss

2:28:252:28:27

and on addressing the variation

in access to and the quality

2:28:272:28:29

of services across the country.

2:28:302:28:32

The framework has been developed

with a range of stakeholders,

2:28:322:28:34

including voluntary sector groups

and professional representative

2:28:342:28:37

groups, such as Action

on Hearing Loss, which has been

2:28:372:28:46

mentioned today, and the British

Tinnitus Association, ditto, which

2:28:462:28:48

are members of the Hearing Loss

and Deafness Alliance.

2:28:482:28:51

The guidance is crucial in ensuring

consistency across CCG commissioning

2:28:512:28:53

in England and supporting

commissioners as they make decisions

2:28:532:28:55

on what is effective and good value

for their local populations.

2:28:552:28:58

In turn, it will help to reduce

inequalities in access to

2:28:582:29:01

and outcomes from hearing services.

2:29:012:29:02

I recognise the need for us

to maintain momentum and to ensure

2:29:022:29:05

that the action plan secures

positive outcomes for those

2:29:052:29:07

with hearing loss and deafness.

2:29:072:29:17

Let me turn to the points,

hopefully all of them,

2:29:202:29:25

that have been raised.

2:29:252:29:26

In response to the speech

by my right honourable friend

2:29:262:29:31

the Member for Hemel Hempstead,

2:29:312:29:35

who I know had to run away-he

is my former boss, I say

2:29:352:29:38

this - not only am I not

the Minister for Education,

2:29:382:29:41

DWP, DCMS or others,

I am not even the Minister

2:29:412:29:43

within the Department

2:29:432:29:44

of Health covering this area,

but never let that

2:29:442:29:46

stop a happy Minister.

2:29:462:29:47

I really enjoyed

listening to the debate.

2:29:472:29:49

The smartest way to respond will be

to take the points that have

2:29:492:29:52

been raised the most.

2:29:522:29:53

The Honourable

2:29:532:29:54

Member for Poplar and Limehouse, in

opening the debate, the Honourable

2:29:542:29:57

Member for Bristol East,

who mentioned her

2:29:572:29:59

constituent, my right

honourable friend

2:29:592:30:00

the Member for Hemel

Hempstead and pretty much

2:30:002:30:02

all other speakers mentioned

the Access to Work scheme.

2:30:022:30:07

I recognise Members'

concerns about the impact

2:30:072:30:09

of changes to Access to Work.

2:30:092:30:10

I understand that the Honourable

2:30:102:30:11

Member for Poplar and Limehouse

will meet with the Minister

2:30:112:30:14

for Disabled People,

Health and Work early

2:30:142:30:16

in the new year to discuss in more

detail Access to Work and concerns

2:30:162:30:19

he has about it.

2:30:192:30:20

Members will realise that

I am not that Minister,

2:30:202:30:23

who is my honourable friend

2:30:232:30:31

the Member for Truro and Falmouth,

2:30:312:30:33

but I spoke to her at lunch time

ahead of this debate

2:30:332:30:36

and I was on the Front Bench

with her this afternoon

2:30:362:30:38

for the statement on

the new Command Paper.

2:30:382:30:40

We will speak after this debate

to ensure that she is fully up

2:30:402:30:43

to date with everything raised that

comes within her portfolio.

2:30:432:30:46

I think it is worth putting it

on record that resources for Access

2:30:462:30:49

to Work were increased in real terms

in the 2015 spending review.

2:30:492:30:52

I appreciate that Honourable

2:30:522:30:53

Members have all spoken

positively about Access

2:30:532:30:56

to Work as a scheme,

but resources within

2:30:562:31:00

a publicly-funded health service

are still finite and they need to be

2:31:002:31:08

allocated to the growing numbers

coming to the scheme, 8% more people

2:31:082:31:11

had Access to Work provision

approved last year

2:31:112:31:13

than the previous year,

including 13% more deaf people.

2:31:132:31:21

Last year, we spent £104 million

on Access to Work grants,

2:31:212:31:24

an increase from £97 million

the year before.

2:31:242:31:26

As has been said by

a number of Honourable

2:31:262:31:28

Members, Access to Work

is a demand-led scheme and therefore

2:31:282:31:30

the number ?and level of awards

will reflect that.

2:31:302:31:33

We intend for it to continue

to meet demand, and with

2:31:332:31:35

that the numbers continue to go up.

2:31:352:31:40

I do not accept that the maximum

level of support is too low.

2:31:402:31:43

The help an individual may receive

from Access to Work depends

2:31:432:31:48

on their individual needs

and their personal circumstances, up

2:31:482:31:51

to the current maximum of £42,100

per year rising to £43,100

2:31:512:31:54

from April 2018.

2:31:542:31:57

That is 1.5 times the average

salary, which is far more

2:31:572:32:01

than most of my constituents,

and those of every Honourable

2:32:012:32:03

Member here, earn.

2:32:032:32:04

Transitional arrangements

are in place for existing recipients

2:32:042:32:06

and those who made a claim before

October 2015.

2:32:062:32:11

The changes do not apply

until April 2018, provided that

2:32:112:32:13

needs remain the same.

2:32:132:32:15

People will receive annual

reviews of their progress

2:32:152:32:17

and support in the transition

to the award level.

2:32:172:32:22

The Government continually monitor

the application of the cap

2:32:222:32:25

and consider whether any further

flexibilities might be required.

2:32:252:32:29

That is another point I discussed

with my honourable friend from Truro

2:32:292:32:41

before the debate, she is acutely

aware of the situation.

2:32:412:32:43

It is not often that

a Minister is able to stand up

2:32:432:32:46

in a Westminster Hall debate

on the day that something

2:32:462:32:49

new has been announced

and touch on something new.

2:32:492:32:51

This Command Paper -

Improving Lives:

2:32:512:32:52

The Future of Work, Health

2:32:522:32:55

and Disability - sets

out our response to last year's

2:32:552:32:58

Green Paper consultation.

2:32:582:33:01

In this document, a weighty

tome that Honourable

2:33:012:33:04

Members and I will want to study,

we set out how those users

2:33:042:33:07

with the greatest needs,

such as some British Sign Language

2:33:072:33:10

users, will be offered

new managed personal budgets,

2:33:102:33:12

as well as workplace assessments

involving their employers,

2:33:122:33:14

to help to meet their needs

within their award level.

2:33:142:33:16

Deaf customers will also be

supported by a dedicated team

2:33:162:33:18

of special advisers.

2:33:182:33:21

The Honourable

Member for Eastbourne

2:33:212:33:29

had to get away,

2:33:292:33:30

but he has returned.

2:33:302:33:31

He is indeed a friend

from the grand old days

2:33:312:33:33

of the coalition, as he put it.

2:33:332:33:35

I have noted his incredibly

well-made point about SMEs.

2:33:352:33:37

My right honourable friend

2:33:372:33:38

the Member for Hemel

Hempstead made the point

2:33:382:33:40

that those employing disabled people

get a lower churn

2:33:402:33:42

and a number of Honourable

2:33:422:33:43

Members reflected that

message in their comments.

2:33:432:33:45

I think it is absolutely right.

2:33:452:33:47

A company based in my constituency

called Microlink PC was mentioned

2:33:472:33:50

in the Chamber during the statement.

2:33:502:33:55

It works with large and small

organisations, big banks

2:33:552:33:59

in the City and small SMEs

across the country, and the focus

2:33:592:34:02

of its business is to use technology

to help disabled people into work.

2:34:022:34:05

That absolutely includes people

with deafness and hearing loss.

2:34:052:34:07

Many people across the charities

sector also work to

2:34:072:34:09

help that to happen.

2:34:092:34:19

I heard the Member for

Poplar and Limehouse

2:34:222:34:24

during the statement earlier,

2:34:242:34:25

standing on the back row,

and I knew exactly what he was going

2:34:252:34:28

to say, and he did not disappoint

when he raised the issue of the cap.

2:34:282:34:32

All I can say is that I wrote on my

notes the comments of the Secretary

2:34:322:34:36

of State, which I know

the Honourable

2:34:362:34:38

Gentleman will have noted, too,

and that I know the Honourable

2:34:382:34:45

Gentleman will bring the matter up

with my honourable friend from Truro

2:34:452:34:48

the Minister for Disabled People,

2:34:482:34:49

Health and Work when he meets her.

2:34:492:34:51

The Secretary of State said

he would continue to review,

2:34:512:34:53

continue to look at the evidence.

2:34:532:34:55

I encourage the Honourable

2:34:552:34:56

Gentleman to press on that

and to continue to look

2:34:562:34:58

at the evidence, because he has

that there in black and white

2:34:582:35:01

from the Secretary of

State.? The Honourable

2:35:012:35:03

Gentleman also mentioned,

as did the Honourable

2:35:032:35:04

Member for Eastbourne

and the Honourable

2:35:042:35:06

Member for Blaydon,

who has also gone,

2:35:062:35:08

and many other Honourable

2:35:082:35:09

Members, the legal recognition

of British Sign Language

2:35:092:35:10

and the case for a BSL GCSE.

2:35:112:35:13

It is not entirely clear to me

which Department would lead

2:35:132:35:16

on legal recognition

of British Sign Language,

2:35:162:35:19

which is the problem that so many

people have referred to today.

2:35:192:35:22

I am sympathetic to the calls

for strengthening the role

2:35:222:35:25

of British Sign Language.

2:35:252:35:27

We want to see as many people

trained and providing

2:35:272:35:29

support as possible.

2:35:292:35:34

At this time, Her Majesty's

Government are not yet convinced

2:35:342:35:37

that the way to achieve

that is through legislation.

2:35:372:35:40

The Department for Work

and Pensions undertook

2:35:402:35:44

an extensive market review,

of which the final report

2:35:442:35:46

was published in July,

which demonstrated that

2:35:462:35:49

communication requirements should be

addressed on an individual basis

2:35:492:35:51

and that there is no universal

approach to addressing these needs.

2:35:512:35:57

We have protections of the legal

rights of people who are deaf

2:35:572:36:01

in the Equality Act 2010

and in the duties of the NHS, the

2:36:012:36:04

mandate that I am responsible

for giving to NHS England

2:36:042:36:07

and publicly funded social

care organisations to

2:36:072:36:09

conform to what we call

the accessible information standard.

2:36:092:36:12

I am happy to take that point away.

2:36:122:36:14

It came across clearly

from many Honourable

2:36:142:36:17

Members in this debate.

2:36:172:36:21

All I will say is that

the private Members' ballot

2:36:212:36:23

is a wonderful thing.

2:36:232:36:27

On the subject of the GCSE,

any change to the school curriculum,

2:36:272:36:31

particularly the establishment

of new GCSEs, is a matter

2:36:312:36:36

for the Department for Education

and something that the all-party

2:36:362:36:39

group will have to take up with it.

2:36:392:36:41

I know from talking

to the Department before

2:36:412:36:45

the debate, I suspected that this

would come up, that there are no

2:36:452:36:48

plans at this time to introduce

further GCSEs beyond those

2:36:482:36:51

to which the Government

have already committed,

2:36:512:36:52

but something tells me

that the Honourable

2:36:522:36:54

Member for Poplar and Limehouse,

my right honourable friend

2:36:542:36:56

the Member for Hemel

Hempstead, the Honourable

2:36:562:36:58

Member for Eastbourne

and other Honourable

2:36:582:36:59

Members who have spoken today will,

with their usual determination,

2:36:592:37:02

follow this through with Ministers

at the Department for Education,

2:37:022:37:04

who will no doubt note

their comments today.

2:37:042:37:08

The Member for Poplar and Limehouse

2:37:082:37:10

and the right Honourable

2:37:102:37:13

Member for Wolverhampton

South East talked

2:37:132:37:14

about the assessment criteria

for cochlear implants.

2:37:142:37:19

Those were debated in March

when the Honourable

2:37:192:37:22

Member for Poplar and Limehouse had

an Adjournment debate

2:37:222:37:25

in which he highlighted the report

of the Ear Foundation and he called

2:37:252:37:29

for NICE to review its cochlear

implants technology appraisal.

2:37:292:37:32

As the Honourable

2:37:322:37:35

Member will know, NICE

is an independent and expert

2:37:352:37:37

body that advises us

at the Department, and it has

2:37:372:37:40

discretion to review its guidance

in the light of any new evidence.

2:37:402:37:45

NICE is working on a list review

for this particular technology

2:37:452:37:48

appraisal and will consult

with stakeholders in 2018,

2:37:482:37:56

so I will make sure

that he and all other Honourable

2:37:562:37:59

Members who have raised this matter

get early sight of that and do not

2:37:592:38:02

have to go looking for it or hear

about it in the media.

2:38:022:38:05

I am absolutely sure that this

will include consideration

2:38:052:38:08

of thresholds and criteria

for getting cochlear implants.

2:38:082:38:11

I understand that NICE

is planning this consultation

2:38:112:38:15

because of its recognition of how

important this is, going

2:38:152:38:17

beyond the usual review process.

2:38:172:38:19

Although that does not

give the Honourable

2:38:192:38:21

Gentleman the clarity he wants,

I hope it is helpful

2:38:212:38:26

to him in some way.? The Honourable

2:38:262:38:28

Gentleman and my honourable friend

2:38:282:38:36

the Member for Milton

Keynes South who spoke

2:38:362:38:40

excellently about this, talked

about the provision of functionally

2:38:402:38:42

equivalent telecoms services

and video-text relay services.

2:38:422:38:44

Obviously telecommunications does

not sit within the Department

2:38:442:38:48

of Health, no matter how

big our remit, I do not think

2:38:482:38:51

we have that one, but it

is very good to hear

2:38:512:38:54

companies such as Three

2:38:542:38:56

and deafPLUS are at the forefront

of delivering equivalent services

2:38:562:38:58

for their hard-of-hearing customers.

2:38:592:39:00

I wish deafPLUS all the best

in the Helpline awards,

2:39:002:39:02

which it has been nominated for.

2:39:022:39:03

I understand that the Department

for Digital, Culture,

2:39:032:39:05

Media and Sport has previously

considered the issue of provision

2:39:052:39:08

of telecoms services,

despite it being a commercial

2:39:082:39:10

decision for the

public-facing companies.

2:39:102:39:11

This has included the Department

engaging with companies

2:39:112:39:17

and industry, and Ministers writing

to the FTSE 100

2:39:172:39:19

companies seeking views.

2:39:192:39:20

I hear that the feedback

from that included the view

2:39:202:39:22

that there were better means

of meeting the needs

2:39:222:39:25

of consumers with less reliance

on video relay services.

2:39:252:39:29

I am happy to raise the issues

highlighted by Members with DCMS

2:39:292:39:33

colleagues and see what further

engagement there can be,

2:39:332:39:36

and will of course recommend

that they look at the Australia

2:39:362:39:38

example that my honourable friend

2:39:382:39:39

the Member for Milton

Keynes South spoke

2:39:392:39:41

about in such glowing terms.

2:39:412:39:46

The Member leading

the debate, the Honourable

2:39:462:39:48

Member for Poplar and Limehouse,

raised the Deaflympics.

2:39:482:39:52

I understand that the

Under-Secretary of State

2:39:522:39:53

for Digital, Culture, Media

and Sport, my honourable friend

2:39:532:39:58

the Member for Chatham

and Aylesford,

2:39:582:39:59

has instructed officials

in her Department to look into how

2:39:592:40:02

we can ensure greater recognition

for the Deaflympics in this country,

2:40:022:40:04

and she will consider

their advice in due course.

2:40:042:40:06

She is a very accessible Minister,

and I know the Honourable

2:40:062:40:09

Gentleman knows her and will no

doubt take that matter

2:40:092:40:11

up with her as well.

2:40:112:40:18

A number of people, including

the member leading the debate,

2:40:182:40:23

the Member for Waveney

and the Honourable

2:40:232:40:25

Member for Bristol East

talked about improving

2:40:252:40:27

paediatric audiology services

through the Improving Quality in

2:40:272:40:32

Physiological Services scheme.

2:40:322:40:33

Concerns have indeed been raised

in relation to accreditation

2:40:332:40:35

of paediatric audiology services.

2:40:352:40:37

The independent process

of accreditation, the IQIPS services

2:40:372:40:40

is there to ensure all providers

meet a common standard.

2:40:402:40:43

We want all providers to have

completed accreditation

2:40:432:40:45

as quickly as possible.

2:40:452:40:48

The commissioning framework

encourages clinical commissioning

2:40:482:40:51

groups to require providers to have

completed the IQIPS self-assessment

2:40:512:40:53

tool, and to have applied

for and achieved accreditation,

2:40:532:40:56

within the duration

of their contract.

2:40:562:41:01

Commissioners must be the ones

who drive this forward.

2:41:012:41:03

For us, the accreditation process

is an effective means of testing

2:41:032:41:06

against the standard.

2:41:062:41:11

If during an assessment mandatory

findings are raised that show

2:41:112:41:13

nonconformity with any part

of the standard, the service agrees

2:41:132:41:16

appropriate improvement actions

with the United Kingdom

2:41:162:41:19

Accreditation Service

team to rectify that

2:41:192:41:20

and prevent it reoccurring.

2:41:202:41:24

The Member for Poplar and Limehouse

2:41:242:41:26

and many others raised the issue,

2:41:262:41:27

which I even question myself on,

of which Government Department leads

2:41:272:41:30

on British Sign Language.

2:41:302:41:31

I completely appreciate

the frustration.

2:41:312:41:35

There can only ever be one

Minister at the Box,

2:41:352:41:38

but what we really need

is a triumvirate of me

2:41:382:41:43

merged into my honourable friend

2:41:432:41:46

for Truro ?and Falmouth,

and for Chatham

2:41:462:41:50

and Aylesford, that would be

an interesting sight!

2:41:502:41:52

I totally appreciate the frustration

with the fact that no single

2:41:522:41:54

Government Department leads

on British Sign Language.

2:41:542:41:56

I suppose, although this

will probably just make it worse,

2:41:562:41:59

it would depend on the context,

if it is in education,

2:41:592:42:03

that would be for the Department

for Education, if it was how BSL

2:42:032:42:06

is used in health settings in line

with the accessibility

2:42:062:42:09

standard that I mentioned,

that would be for my colleagues

2:42:092:42:11

in the Department of Health.

2:42:112:42:16

I get the Honourable

2:42:162:42:17

Gentleman's point,

and will take it away.

2:42:172:42:19

The Honourable

2:42:192:42:20

Member for Eastbourne,

whom I know well and is welcome back

2:42:202:42:23

to the House, talked about screening

for hearing loss in adults.

2:42:232:42:27

He made the point very well

that we do not focus just on people

2:42:272:42:30

with complete hearing loss.

2:42:302:42:32

He said to me the other day

that he feared the debate would be

2:42:322:42:38

about the deaf-deaf,

as he put it, and he wants to ensure

2:42:382:42:41

that people with partial hearing

loss get the support they need.

2:42:412:42:44

He made the point very

well that people begin

2:42:442:42:46

to lose their hearing later in life,

as age catches up with us all,

2:42:462:42:50

but accept it as part

of the natural ageing process.

2:42:502:42:54

They are often reluctant to admit

they have a hearing problem,

2:42:542:42:57

do not seek support as promptly

as they might with other

2:42:572:43:00

conditions and, as we have

heard and as he said,

2:43:002:43:03

often wait years before

going for a hearing test.

2:43:032:43:06

We heard his call for

the introduction of a hearing loss

2:43:062:43:08

screening programme for people

at the age of 66, once

2:43:082:43:11

they reach retirement,

and as part of the NHS health check

2:43:112:43:13

for people aged 40 to 70.

2:43:132:43:17

I am responsible for

the health check programme.

2:43:172:43:21

The advice from the UK

National Screening Committee,

2:43:212:43:23

the expert group that advises

Ministers on all aspects

2:43:232:43:26

of screening, is that the evidence

does not demonstrate that universal

2:43:262:43:29

screening would provide any

hearing-related improvement

2:43:292:43:33

in quality of life in comparison

to hearing loss identified

2:43:332:43:35

through other channels.

2:43:352:43:37

However, the Honourable

2:43:372:43:39

Gentleman makes a persuasive

argument that we can do more

2:43:392:43:42

to identify hearing loss as people

reach older age.

2:43:422:43:46

He said that the general

election had intervened,

2:43:462:43:50

but as he also said,

he is back, and I do not doubt that

2:43:502:43:55

I will be hearing from him

again on this subject,

2:43:552:43:57

probably at Health questions

in a couple of weeks' time.

2:43:572:43:59

I will be more than happy

to do so, to be honest.

2:43:592:44:05

He also mentioned that CCGs

commission the audiology services.

2:44:052:44:10

NHS England's commissioning

framework captures the importance

2:44:102:44:14

of audiology, and monthly waiting

time data for audiology is collected

2:44:142:44:19

and can and should be used

by Members and the public to hold

2:44:192:44:24

commissioners to account.

2:44:242:44:30

I touched on my honourable friend

2:44:302:44:35

the Member for Waveney,

who spoke about support

2:44:352:44:37

for children with hearing loss,

and about his constituent's

2:44:372:44:39

son, Daniel.

2:44:392:44:40

I was the vice-chair

of the all-party parliamentary group

2:44:402:44:43

on autism for many years

when I was on the Back Benches,

2:44:432:44:46

and we often used to hear

about the so-called middle-class

2:44:462:44:49

parents with sharp elbows

who managed to get their

2:44:492:44:53

children what they needed.

2:44:532:44:56

That is, of course, human nature,

but it should not be the sharp

2:44:562:44:59

elbows of the middle classes

or of anybody else that gets

2:44:592:45:06

children what they need,

that is what the state is for,

2:45:062:45:09

in my opinion.

2:45:092:45:10

Children with a special educational

need as a result of their deafness

2:45:102:45:13

will benefit from the more

integrated approach

2:45:132:45:15

to meeting their needs.

2:45:152:45:16

Since 2014, a new framework has

required CCGs and local authorities

2:45:162:45:20

to make joint arrangements

for assessing the range

2:45:202:45:23

of ?eligible children's needs,

and the development

2:45:232:45:25

of what my honourable friend

2:45:252:45:28

rightly referred

to as the education,

2:45:282:45:29

health and care plans

to provide necessary support.

2:45:292:45:31

Every Member in this

debate and in this House

2:45:312:45:33

has casework on EHCPs.

2:45:332:45:38

These arrangements are transforming

the support available to children

2:45:382:45:41

and young people by joining up

services for zero

2:45:412:45:44

to 25-year-olds-that

is their scope-across education,

2:45:442:45:48

health and social care and by

focusing on positive outcomes.

2:45:482:45:51

He is right to take up

the casework, as I would myself.

2:45:512:45:55

I think the performance of local

authorities is vastly

2:45:552:46:00

different across the country.

2:46:012:46:02

I know from speaking to him outside

this debate that he is working very

2:46:022:46:05

closely with his local authority,

as I would expect,

2:46:052:46:08

and that he has been impressed

by the improvements it has made.

2:46:082:46:11

I do not doubt that

that is because of the pressure

2:46:112:46:14

that he has put on it.

2:46:142:46:18

In my honourable friend's speech he

used the term,

2:46:182:46:20

which I wrote down, "The right

support right from the start".

2:46:202:46:26

I do not think that was an accident,

because as a Member

2:46:262:46:29

of Parliament I had an invitation

today, as we all did,

2:46:292:46:32

from the National Deaf Children's

Society, which he referred to,

2:46:322:46:34

requesting the pleasure

of my company at an event called:

2:46:342:46:37

"Technology and deaf children:

Getting the right support,

2:46:372:46:39

right from the start".

2:46:392:46:40

Mr Speaker has very kindly allowed

that to be in the state rooms

2:46:402:46:43

in Speaker's House at

lunchtime on 10 January.

2:46:432:46:45

I think that will be an excellent

event, and I hope it is well

2:46:452:46:48

attended, I suspect it will be

by all Members in this room.

2:46:482:46:51

My honourable friend

2:46:512:46:52

touched on special educational

needs funding as well.

2:46:522:46:57

The implementation of the new SEN

system has been supported

2:46:572:47:02

by significant new investment.

2:47:022:47:06

That includes £70 million in '14-15,

£113 million in '14 through to '17

2:47:062:47:11

in the implementation funding,

and £45 million in the same

2:47:112:47:15

period for independent

supporters for families.

2:47:152:47:21

Ofsted and the Care Quality

Commission are reviewing how

2:47:212:47:31

all local authorities, authorities

know about this, and their CCG

2:47:322:47:34

partners work together to meet

the needs of children with SEN

2:47:342:47:37

as the EHCPs come into force.

2:47:372:47:39

The assessment criteria

are there, and are very

2:47:392:47:40

much on their shoulders.

2:47:412:47:43

My honourable friend

the Member for Rochester and Strood

2:47:432:47:48

gave

a brilliant and very personal

2:47:482:47:49

speech, if I may say so.

2:47:492:47:50

It is never easy to do

that in this place.

2:47:502:47:53

It gets lots of retweets,

but that is the easy bit,

2:47:532:47:56

it is really hard to do it.

2:47:562:47:58

She mentioned her mum's story,

and I thought she spoke brilliantly.

2:47:582:48:02

She used the term invisible

disability, which the Honourable

2:48:022:48:04

Member for Burnley also used.

2:48:042:48:07

My honourable friend

2:48:072:48:10

said that deafness could take many

different forms and have

2:48:102:48:13

impacts physical and mental.

2:48:132:48:16

I thought she made the case

really coherently.

2:48:162:48:20

To touch again on my

right honourable friend

2:48:202:48:22

the Member for Hemel

Hempstead, my former boss,

2:48:222:48:24

for the record, I do not mind

at all when former Ministers come

2:48:242:48:28

to debates that I am responding to,

especially when they are former

2:48:282:48:30

Ministers for a Department that I am

not responsible for.

2:48:302:48:34

I thought he made the point very

well about the scale of the issue

2:48:342:48:39

and the hidden deafness in this

country, and he gave his example

2:48:392:48:43

of industrial causes of deafness.

2:48:432:48:47

The Honourable

Member for Edinburgh East

2:48:472:48:51

told us

about the BSL Act in Scotland

2:48:512:48:54

and the ensuing national action

plan, which he directed

2:48:542:48:56

?colleagues to look at.

2:48:562:48:59

I will direct colleagues in the UK

Government to look at that.

2:48:592:49:02

Hats off to him for his attempt

at signing the start of his speech.

2:49:022:49:06

I thought that was a very

brave move, and I thank

2:49:062:49:10

him for his remarks.

2:49:102:49:13

The Honourable

Member for Erith and Thamesmead

2:49:132:49:16

spoke very

well about loneliness.

2:49:162:49:18

I wonder whether the loneliness

commission that our former colleague

2:49:182:49:22

Jo Cox set up touched on the issue

of deafness and its impact

2:49:222:49:26

on loneliness, I would be interested

to learn from those involved

2:49:262:49:29

whether it did.

2:49:292:49:32

The Honourable

Lady spoke about Jacob

2:49:322:49:34

and the crowdfunding

2:49:342:49:35

in her constituency

for his cochlear implant.

2:49:352:49:41

I do not know the details

of his case, so it would be

2:49:412:49:44

unfair for me to comment,

but it sounds as though her

2:49:442:49:47

community is showing incredible

grace to that little boy.

2:49:472:49:51

It would be wonderful

to see him in the House

2:49:512:49:54

when he has had his implant.

2:49:542:49:57

She also raised the issue

of the Access to Work cap again.

2:49:572:50:01

My Department for Work and Pensions

colleagues and I will write

2:50:012:50:03

to her about her specific

questions on numbers.

2:50:032:50:13

The Honourable

Member for West Lancashire

2:50:132:50:15

spoke about her kidnap

by the deaf community.

2:50:152:50:20

Again, hers was a very

emotional speech.

2:50:202:50:22

I so wish she had done

what she threatened to do

2:50:222:50:25

and signed her entire speech,

as long as she had given me

2:50:252:50:28

a copy of it beforehand.

2:50:282:50:31

I like to think I can cope,

but I would not have

2:50:312:50:33

coped with all of that.

2:50:332:50:35

I thank her for her well made

comments, especially

2:50:352:50:37

about a single gateway.

2:50:372:50:40

She is a member of the Health

Committee, and I suspect

2:50:402:50:43

that she is also a member

of the all-party group,

2:50:432:50:48

so perhaps she will make that

suggestion to the new Minister

2:50:482:50:54

for Disabled People,

Health and Work and will talk

2:50:542:50:57

about the cap on Access to Work

when the group meets her.

2:50:572:51:01

The Honourable

Lady also referred to

2:51:012:51:02

invisible disability.

2:51:022:51:04

The Honourable

Member for Linlithgow

2:51:042:51:08

and East Falkirk made

2:51:082:51:11

points about the gender gap

and EU law post-Brexit.

2:51:112:51:15

They definitely do not

fall within my remit,

2:51:152:51:19

but I will write to him.

2:51:192:51:24

We have the European Union

Bill, or the repeal

2:51:242:51:30

Bill as it is colloquially known,

and in the past week or so,

2:51:302:51:34

we have had a taste of the issues

relating to animal rights.

2:51:342:51:38

I have to say, as a Government MP

and a Government Minister,

2:51:382:51:44

I take slight umbrage

with the suggestion, although

2:51:442:51:46

not by the Honourable

2:51:462:51:49

Gentleman, that somehow we need

the EU to have good rights relating

2:51:492:51:52

to looking after animals

in our country, let

2:51:522:51:54

alone our citizens.

2:51:542:51:55

I do not buy that for a minute.

2:51:552:51:58

We will import that regulation

through the Bill and then look at it

2:51:582:52:01

as a sovereign Parliament and decide

how we can improve on it.

2:52:012:52:06

I am sure there are ways to do that.

2:52:062:52:08

From what Members have said

on the subject in this debate,

2:52:082:52:11

and given the other Members

who are interested,

2:52:112:52:13

I somehow do not think

that the issue will go unheard.

2:52:132:52:16

I will leave a few minutes

for the Honourable

2:52:162:52:19

Member for Poplar and

Limehouse to sum up.

2:52:192:52:23

In conclusion, we have had a very

interesting, honest debate.

2:52:232:52:26

I hope I have been able

to demonstrate to Honourable

2:52:262:52:30

Members that across my now

expanding portfolio,

2:52:302:52:35

we have a strong frame-work for

supporting people

2:52:352:52:37

with hearing loss through a set

of quality and commissioning

2:52:372:52:42

criteria within a restricted

budget, of course, that

2:52:422:52:44

will always be the case.

2:52:442:52:45

Setting the expectations

for commissioners and providers

2:52:452:52:47

is what we in the Department

of Health are most interested in.

2:52:472:52:51

The dedicated action

plan on hearing loss

2:52:512:52:53

is being spearheaded by NHS England,

for which I am responsible,

2:52:532:52:56

and the multi-agency approach

is enshrined in the action plan.?

2:52:562:53:01

We are doing a lot,

but we can always do more.

2:53:012:53:04

Some really good points have been

made in today's debate.

2:53:042:53:08

Whether more people are watching

today's debate than "Pointless",

2:53:082:53:10

I do not know, but if more people

watched debates such as this,

2:53:102:53:14

they would have a far better opinion

of Parliament than some of them do.

2:53:142:53:18

We have had a really good

debate and have covered

2:53:182:53:21

a huge amount of ground.

2:53:212:53:22

I very much thank Honourable

2:53:222:53:24

Members for their contributions,

which have all been from the heart

2:53:242:53:26

and incredibly well informed.

2:53:262:53:28

I look forward to following up

on many of the issues

2:53:282:53:30

that have been raised.

2:53:302:53:33

I am grateful for the opportunity

to sum up, Ms Buck.

2:53:342:53:37

Invariably, the Member who sums

up such debates says,

2:53:372:53:40

"We have had a good discussion."

2:53:402:53:43

Not only is that the case today,

2:53:432:53:45

but this has been an exceptional

debate, and I thank everybody

2:53:452:53:47

who has contributed.

2:53:472:53:48

There has been a personal theme,

but even those who did not raise

2:53:482:53:51

a personal experience clearly

have a grasp of the importance of

2:53:512:53:54

the subject to their constituents.

2:53:542:53:58

If any Honourable

2:53:582:54:00

Members are not on the all-party

group mailing list, they are now,

2:54:002:54:04

but I suspect everybody already is.

2:54:042:54:07

The Honourable

Member for Milton Keynes South

2:54:072:54:10

put his

finger on the big issue.

2:54:102:54:12

As others mentioned,

this is a cross-departmental matter,

2:54:122:54:14

so we need a champion.

2:54:142:54:15

I will return to that in due course.

2:54:152:54:17

My right honourable friend

2:54:172:54:19

the Member for

Wolverhampton South East

2:54:192:54:22

spoke about cochlear

implants and NICE.

2:54:222:54:23

The Minister says that the work

is now back in hand, it

2:54:232:54:26

will be nine months late,

but hopefully it is coming.

2:54:262:54:28

The Honourable

2:54:282:54:31

Member for Rochester and Strood,

2:54:312:54:32

as the Minister said,

covered her mum's story powerfully,

2:54:322:54:34

bringing a tear to my eye.

2:54:342:54:36

If she saw me wiping it,

it is because it was such a great

2:54:362:54:39

explanation of an individual's

difficulty, told with clear

2:54:392:54:41

personal commitment.

2:54:412:54:43

She made a point about how important

it is for organisations such

2:54:432:54:48

as Auditory Verbal to get

to children born deaf

2:54:482:54:50

within the first three and a half

years, when their brains can

2:54:502:54:53

still learn to speak,

after that, it is far too late.

2:54:532:54:57

That is why the pathway

is so important.

2:54:572:55:03

The Honourable Member

for Eastbourne

2:55:032:55:06

also spoke powerfully

about his personal experience.

2:55:062:55:08

I was not sure whether he was making

a bid to come back as the chair

2:55:082:55:12

of the all-party parliamentary

group, he will need to wait

2:55:122:55:14

for the annual general meeting,

but he is a great vice-chairman,

2:55:142:55:17

and I will be pleased

to see him there.

2:55:172:55:19

The Honourable Member for Waveney

and the right Honourable

2:55:192:55:25

Member for Hemel Hempstead both

called me their honourable friend

2:55:252:55:28

that does not do me any favours

on this side of the House,

2:55:282:55:31

but I know what it means.

2:55:312:55:32

We have done a lot of good work

on a number of Committees,

2:55:322:55:35

especially on fire,

and we are friends.

2:55:352:55:37

That tells people outside the House

?that although we might not often be

2:55:372:55:40

in the same Division Lobby,

we have friends across the Chamber

2:55:402:55:43

and we work together

when there is a common purpose.

2:55:432:55:45

That is really important.

2:55:452:55:46

My honourable friend

the Member for Bristol East

2:55:462:55:48

spoke

about IQIPS and accreditation.

2:55:482:55:49

The right Honourable

2:55:492:55:50

Member for Hemel Hempstead,

with his experience as Minister

2:55:502:55:52

of State on Access to Work,

is a powerful ally.

2:55:522:55:55

The Honourable

Member for Edinburgh East

2:55:552:55:56

who just

left to catch his train,

2:55:562:55:58

talked about money being available

for BSL lessons here.

2:55:582:56:00

That ought to be the case,

and I am sure that it is the case,

2:56:002:56:04

we just need to explore it.

2:56:042:56:05

He made a point by signing,

reminding me that so much of sign

2:56:052:56:08

language is common

sense, such as "book".

2:56:082:56:12

He used the sign for "Scotland",

which is bagpipes.

2:56:122:56:15

That tickles me every time I see it.

2:56:152:56:19

He made a clear point

about the power of legislation.

2:56:192:56:24

My honourable friend

2:56:252:56:26

the Member for Erith and Thamesmead

2:56:262:56:29

told a story about Jacob

and crowdfunding.

2:56:292:56:31

It was powerful, as was the personal

story told by my honourable friend

2:56:312:56:38

the Member for Blaydon.

2:56:382:56:39

My honourable friend

2:56:392:56:43

the Member for West Lancashire

2:56:432:56:45

told her stories about having BSL

as her first language,

2:56:452:56:47

and the Access to Work issues.

2:56:472:56:49

She spoke about Liverpool minicoms,

and her dad, of whom she is clearly

2:56:492:56:52

and rightly very proud.

2:56:522:56:53

I am sure that it touched

everybody in the room.

2:56:532:56:56

The politics came from the three

Front-Bench speakers,

2:56:562:56:58

the place went back to normal

when they started talking.

2:56:582:57:01

I mean no disrespect at all,

they deal with things

2:57:012:57:04

from a political point of view.

2:57:042:57:07

Judging by their speeches,

the Honourable

2:57:072:57:12

Member for Linlithgow

and East Falkirk,

2:57:122:57:15

my honourable friend

the Member for Burnley

2:57:152:57:18

and the Minister

2:57:182:57:19

clearly understand the issues,

and we are grateful for that.

2:57:192:57:21

Finally, we need

a champion in Government.

2:57:212:57:23

BSL needs a champion in Government.

2:57:232:57:24

At some point, a Department

or a Secretary of State will have

2:57:242:57:27

to say to a Minister,

"You're the person for the job."

2:57:272:57:30

Then we can all go support that

person and get a better

2:57:302:57:33

hearing in Government.

2:57:332:57:34

This has been a powerful debate.

2:57:342:57:40

I am grateful to both

signers for being here.

2:57:402:57:47

Hear, hear!

2:57:472:57:50

And

to the House authorities

2:57:502:57:51

for facilitating that.

2:57:512:57:52

I hope that this is the first

of many opportunities

2:57:522:57:54

and becomes the norm.

2:57:552:57:56

I am grateful for the opportunity

to say these few words in closing.

2:57:562:57:59

On behalf of us all,

I thank the two signers,

2:57:592:58:04

Sally McGreavey and Richard Law.

2:58:042:58:09

We greatly appreciate their work.

2:58:092:58:13