|2 December 2003|
Equal Opportunities Committee
Glasgow Marriot Hotel
2 December 2003
[THE CONVENER opened the informal meeting at 10:36.]
The Convener (Cathy Peattie): Good morning and welcome to our open session. I have spoken to one or two people who have said that they are a bit nervous about speaking. Please do not be nervousplease relax.
This morning's open session is intended to give people an opportunity to offer their views on the European year of disabled people and on any topic that they are aware people want to raise with the Equal Opportunities Committee.
I have a note of the names of those who want to speak during the session, each of whom will have up to three minutes to give us their views. That does not mean that people have to speak for three minutesthose who want to say only a few things should not feel that they need to keep talking just to fill in the time.
There will also be an opportunityover lunchto chat to the MSPs who are present and to give them an idea of what you think is important. It is very important for us to hear what you think and what you have got to say on the European year of disabled people.
I ask those who are called to speak, or their carers, to let us know where they are. We will get someone to bring a microphone to you and you can stay sitting or stand up, if you are able. I remind everyone to switch off their mobile phones, because I do not want to hear any versions of "Jingle Bells" or whatever during the session.
A photographer will be taking pictures because, obviously, we want to publicise what we are doing to get some discussion going on the EYDP. If anyone has a problem with cameras, please give us a shout; if not, just smile nicely.
People seem awfully far awayI feel that I want to move the furniture. We will try to get through as many speakers as possible. I have a list, which I hope we will be able to get through. However, if people who are not on the list feel that they want to say something, they should indicate in some way and I will try to fit them in.
Earlier this morning, I spoke to a young man called ScottI cannot see him, but I am sure he is at the backwho said that he was really nervous about speaking to MSPs and that he did not know what they would look like; he did not realise that he had been speaking to us for half an hour. He was surprised that we did not have two heads,
although he wondered whether we had two brains. Who knows?
I call Marion Findlay and Lizanne Burton of the Volunteer Centre Edinburgh.
Marion Findlay: I am from the Volunteer Centre Edinburgh. We received money from the European year of disabled people to support our work with people with disabilities to help them get involved in voluntary work.
Through volunteering, thousands of people in Scotland contribute to the life of their community. The incidence of people with disabilities being actively involved in volunteering is much lower than that for the population as a whole. People with disabilities report a range of barriersboth physical and attitudinalto their participation in volunteering. We believe that participation in volunteering is a right that should be accessible to everyone.
People with disabilities are too frequently seen as service users rather than service deliverers. Active participation in volunteering allows people with disabilities to contribute to the planning and delivery of services in a way that is more sensitive to differing needs, which means that the community as a whole benefits.
By volunteering, individuals report personal gains such as increased confidence and self-esteem, the development of work-related skills, increased social contact and a sense of satisfaction from helping other people. Individuals therefore benefit from volunteering.
Volunteering can be an end in itself or a means to an end. Some people use it as a stepping stone into open employment, but we are concerned that the increasing Government emphasis on employment could be seen to devalue volunteering, which for many people is part-time and unpaid. The contribution of all volunteers, particularly those with disabilities, should be supported and should not be devalued. I have with me Lizanne, who is a volunteer. She does not want to speak now, but we are happy to answer questions informally later.
The Convener: Lizanne, if you feel later on that you want to speak then just wave.
Lizanne Burton: Okay.
The Convener: Thank you. We move on to Naveed Ashraf of Apna Services.
Naveed Ashraf: I have three children, two of whom are disabled. The oldest child is 10, the middle one is seven and the youngest is one. When the children were born, we had hospital appointments and so on, but no helpers were provided. We approached our social workers, who said that we could not get any help because of the
number of adults in our home. It was not until our third child was born that they realised we needed help. They put us in touch with Apna Services (Barnardo's), which provided us with helpers to look after the children in the evenings and to take them on outings and so on.
Apna Services sometimes had a summer play scheme, but at other times it did not because it did not have the funds. When the children are at school they are quite busy, but when they are at home during the holidays they can be bored and they cannot go anywhere. Children like to go swimming nowadays, but Apna Services cannot provide workers for that because specialist workers are needed to take children swimming. It means that I have to take both children swimming. It would be helpful if Apna Services could be given more funding for taking children out and for providing after-school clubs. At Christmas, sometimes no clubs are provided. Apna Services provides a grant to take the kids on holiday. Children need breaks, as do parents because they are so busy.
When I was unemployed, I helped the wife look after the children. Now that I have started working, the wife is on her own and has had to take up more of the task of looking after the children. It would be helpful if Apna Services could be provided more grants and funds, so that we could have more help in the morning to get the children ready for school, so that someone could play with them in the evening when they come home from school, and so that we could have more help at the weekends.
The Convener: It is clear that it is not just about children going to school but what they do in the evening and how they socialise. Having time and support to play is vital.
Billy Forbes: I would like to make the committee aware about access to buildings. The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 will come into full force in October 2004. It is okay to have ramps into buildings and perhaps accessible toilets downstairs, but things are different when it comes to the second or third floors.
Some lifts are not even adaptable for wheelchair users and I have spoken to builders who tell me that it is cheaper to build narrower doorways. The act provides only that buildings must be accessible enough to get the person into the building. I hope that the Scottish Parliament will be the first in the United Kingdom to ensure that architects make buildings accessible on all floors, ensure that light fittings are fixed lower down walls for wheelchair users and, perhaps, that hearing loops are fitted in rooms.
I am a believer in disability awareness training. It would be a good idea for architecture students at university to have disability awareness training as part of their course. In that way, it would be included in their degree and they would be more aware of the need for accessibility when they start to design buildings.
The Convener: Thank you, Billy.
Fiona Hewitt is from the Scottish Human Services Trust.
Fiona Hewitt: I am at Napier University. The main door at the university is narrow and when we want to go along to the canteen, we meet closed door after closed door and we can only open half the door, which is no good for me and the guide dog. Can Parliament not do something about that? I am the only blind person at that university, I want other people to follow me, but it is really hard going.
Several facilities are not available at the universityfor example a talking computer. I am going into my third year and I still do not have a talking computer. So many things are missing.
The Convener: We have been talking about the European year of disabled people, but you are talking about basic things now.
Fiona Hewitt: I am talking about very basic things. I have to tape everything, take it all back to my house, play the tape, type it all out and then scan it into the computer. If I had a talking computer at the university, I could e-mail work home; it would be such an easy thing to do. The worst thing is that the university has bought Hal/Supernova, which is good talk-mode software, but no one is licensed to put it on the computer.
The Convener: That is shocking. Thank you for telling us this.
Fiona Hewitt: The university has had Hal for a year. I am going into my third year and I really need help.
Robert Softley is from the Birds of Paradise Theatre Company. That sounds great.
Robert Softley: I am here on behalf of Birds of Paradise, which is one of two theatre companies in Scotland that employs professional actors who are disabled.
The only point that I want to make is that there are few opportunities for disabled people to get involved in the artsprofessionally or recreationally. As we all know, the arts are important to everyone in society and I have found it to be a great way to get out and express myself.
Young disabled people are missing a great chance to develop core skills and their self-esteem through involvement in the arts.
The opportunities for young people to get involved in local drama or theatre groups are quite limited. The Parliament could look at ways to encourage small theatre groups which, because they are often run on a voluntary basis, might not feel that they have the same obligations towards disabled people. It would be a great step forward if they were made more inclusive.
Neil Farren is from the Thistle Foundation.
Neil Farren: I want to tell the committee that the money for employees with disabilities is capped.
I do not think that the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 goes far enough in respect of employment. People who receive benefits cannot earn enough money to have a decent wage. It is a bit of a bummer if other employees earn more than a disabled person. A disabled person should receive the same as an ordinary employee.
Employment law should be changed to allow disabled people to earn the same as other employees, and it does not go far enough to enable access to employment. I have been looking for employment for around two years and I am having difficulty. I have tried the disability employment adviser and all the organisations, but I always come up against brick walls. We should be paid the same as ordinary workers. I do not know what the committee thinks about that.
The Convener: Thank you. It is not enough to ensure that people with disabilities have jobsthey have the right to be paid the same as everyone else. Absolutely.
Dennis Robertson: Good morning. I represent the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, I am a guide dog owner and I have been blind since I was 11.
There is a common perception that people who have guide dogs can go basically anywhere they want. The legislation permits such freedom and access, but enforcement is a different matter. Many guide dog owners are refused access to the most basic places, such as restaurants, public bars and hotels. If a person is out with their family for a special meal and the first thing they are confronted with is someone saying, "Sorry, you can't come in," that can spoil a special day. It is also the opposite of what we hoped people would gain through guide dog mobility, which is the freedom of independence to go out and be part of the community at large.
Perhaps the result of the legislation is that more people want to go out to restaurants, for example, so the problem is coming more to the fore. We can certainly address it. The legislation is in place, but it is not sufficiently monitored or policed. None of the penalties are enforced such that hoteliers, restaurateurs and so on are told that they could be in breach of legislation and lose their licence. It is high time that we took a positive step in that direction.
Another issue that I want to mention is pet passports. I am sure that many people are aware of them. Some guide dog owners want to go abroad and take their guide dogs with them, which is fine. Few problems are experienced when people leave the country; coming back is the problem. Many carriers are happy to see us leave the country, but we have problems when we return. The problems are the result of the scanning system. A dog will have a microchip that confirms that it is the dog that left the country and is the dog that is coming back into it, but the scanners are available only in the major ports in England, such as Dover, and perhaps in Heathrow and Gatwick.
There are absolutely no scanners in Scotland, whether at Rosyth, Glasgow airport or Edinburgh airport. They can be portable. It is not beyond the realm of possibility for people to say, "A person with a guide dog is coming back into the country. Can we fly a portable scanner from Heathrow to Glasgow so that it can be used when their flight arrives?"
Basic things such as thatwhich do not take a great deal of imagination or organisationare not happening, which debars a lot of people with guide dogs from enjoying the freedom of their independence, which was why they got the guide dog in the first instance.
The Convener: Thank you, Dennis. You have raised issues that we were unaware of, but which we can highlight.
Ms Marion Fletcher: I am here from Donaldson's College in Edinburgh. I am a speech and language therapist by profession. I am the equal opportunities officer at the school and the head of the speech and language unit.
Donaldson's College is Scotland's national school for the deaf and, on behalf of my colleagues and the pupils at Donaldson's, I would like to say that we are delighted that the Parliament at Westminster recognised British Sign Language as an official language in England earlier in this European year of people with disabilities. We hope that the Scottish Parliament will shortly pass a resolution to do the same here in Scotland.
Donaldson's College is also Scotland's national school for pupils with severe speech, language
and communication difficulties, and it is on that group of young people that I wish to comment this morning. Children and young people with severe speech, language and communication difficulties become adults with speech, language and communication difficulties. Sometimes known as the silent disability, the nature of those difficulties is not well understood or supported in our society. This morning, I will mention the lack of services for our young people and adults who have those communication difficulties and differences.
There has been a growing awareness within education and sections of health boards of the needs of those childrenin particular within speech and language therapy, occupational therapy and paediatric medicinebut there remains a lack of professionals with the expertise and understanding to address their needs in other spheres of life, such as social work, housing, employment, further education, clinical psychology and other areas of the health services, recreation services and, indeed, most services for adults throughout Scotland.
We have a duty to ensure that although they may lack a powerful voice, the needs of Scottish people with speech, language and communication difficulties are heard, and to ensure that our society in general becomes more aware of, and more supportive towards, the sometimes devastating effects of not being able to communicate effectively. Perhaps more so than for other types of disability, we have a responsibility to be proactive in supporting access to appropriate services for that section of our population, as the people who experience speech, language and communication difficulties can often find it difficult to express their needs themselves.
Mr Gordon McRae: I am Gordon McRae from Leonard Cheshire Scotland. We ran a project with the Sounds of Progress mixed ability theatre company to bring the manifesto project to our service users in Fife and Edinburgh. The project ran in the run-up to the Scottish Parliament elections and was seen as a way for people with learning difficulties and disabilities to interact with the political process through theatre. We put on a multimedia exhibition and a performance towards the end of July, which we were lucky enough to have Fiona Hyslop MSP attend. It was useful for our participants to be able to question their MSP.
We have taken from the European year of people with disabilities the view that there is clearly an opportunityparticularly in Scotlandto find sustainable means of funding such initiatives. We are keen to progress the manifesto project with organisations such as the Birds of Paradise Theatre Company, which we heard about earlier
from Robert Softley. If the funds were available in a sustainable manner, we would be able to expand that to our other units throughout Scotland.
We would also like to see a tribute to some of the successes of this year. We are waiting for the long-awaited disability bill to be introduced at Westminster. This committee may wish to examine that bill, in particular the ways in which it impacts on transport and public services in Scotland. When we look back at what this year has achieved, we hope to see that we have the full civil rights for which we have long been waiting.
Vicki Storr: I agree with Marion Findlay of the Volunteer Centre Edinburgh: because people are used to disabled people being users of services, they do not accept that disabled people can be very much in control of their lives. I am the secretary of the Ayrshire Independent Living Network. Without me, we would not have the organisation, which is a support group that helps people who access direct payments for independent living. We started five years ago as a small voluntary group and we now employ four members of staff through funding from the community fund.
We have been very involved with the European year of disabled people. I find that many organisations pay lip service to disability issues; they get the standard wheelchair user along for picture sessions and whatnot, but at the end of the day they do not let disabled people have any say in final outcomes. That is my experience. We received a grant from the Department for Work and Pensions to run a fun day with other organisations. Many voluntary groups were involved in the implementation of the day, but disabled people were not really involved in the final decisions. We must watch out for that.
We want to make something of the European year of disabled people; we do not want the issues to fall into oblivion now that the year is coming to an end. As members have heard, there are many issues and a lot of work has to be done. There is always a hiccup or a problem when wheelchair users get into buildings or toilets, or get on trains and planes. When the European year of disabled people is finished, we should not simply say that we did that, this and the other during the year; we want all the measures to continue.
A little disability awareness training would go a long way. In Ayrshire, we have three local authorities to deal with. People have to prove that, although they are in a wheelchair and have a disability, they can speak up for disabled people. Our organisation is run by disabled people, for disabled people. Because only disabled people know the problems, they should be at the forefront.
The Convener: You are absolutely right that the European year should not be about paying lip service; it should be a starting point. We should not simply celebrate disabled people and do something about the issues and then move on to a different focus next year. We hope that the European year will make a difference.
As David Bernard from the Scottish Youth Parliament is not here, we will move on to Maggie Maxwell, who is from the Scottish Arts Council.
Maggie Maxwell: The Scottish Arts Council has achieved some of the key themes of the European year of disabled people, including raising awareness, encouraging discussions and promoting good practice. To raise the profile of the year, we have held a series of seminars throughout the country at which issues such as the profile of arts and disability in the media and the limited opportunities for professional training for disabled artists were discussed.
Tomorrow, we will hold a large conference with nearly 300 delegates who will see a hip-hop dancer who is disabledhe dances with a skateboard and crutchesand a stand-up comedian who is in a wheelchair. There will also be mental health and arts workshops, a reading in Scots in Braille by a blind actor and films made by disabled film-makers. We will celebrate quality work by disabled artists. We have arranged a series of arts events and funded a lot of work. We hope that next year there will be a major performance by Theatre Workshop of "The Threepenny Opera", which has funding from the Scottish Executive.
The European year of disabled people has raised thinking in the Scottish Arts Council. We thought that we had a good record of funding and support for arts and disability organisations, but we now realise that disability has to be in our thinking for everything we do, from the design of our application process to the expectations we place on the arts organisations we core fund to provide access for all.
I also think that we have to be realistic about what we can achieve. Research that we carried out showed that although 44 per cent of visual arts galleries employ disabled staff, fewer than 10 per cent routinely offer access tools such as Braille, BSL, guiding and large print. Things are partly moving quickly, but there is still a long way to go. It will take quite a lot more time and more resources to achieve an inclusive future in the arts.
It will get easier. At the Scottish Arts Council we form partnerships to help. With Arts and Business Scotland and the Scottish Executive equalities unit, we are setting up a sponsorship scheme to help raise the profile of, and build the capacity of, arts and disability organisations and to increase
We also need to change attitudes towards disabled people and the attitudes of disabled peopleparticularly the attitude that "the arts are not for me." Disabled people have the right to take part in and enjoy Scottish culture.
Mr Scott Skinner: I am from Scottish Enterprise. I look after equal opportunities for Scottish Enterprise and Careers Scotland.
I highlight for the committee some of the lessons that we have learned in our activities in the European year for disabled people. Our main focus is to encourage disabled people to be more entrepreneurial and to start their own businesses. Our main activity this year was to hold a conference a couple of weeks back to encourage more disabled people to start a business.
We were advised by a steering group of disabled people and their support networks. They helped us to identify the barriers that may prevent disabled people from starting their own businesses. The barriers include: accessing finance and the effect that that has on benefits; the ability to network successfully; motivation and confidence; home working; and provision of information. We have put in place some activities to help address those barriers. They include supporting the disabled entrepreneurs network, to help disabled people to network more successfully with other entrepreneurs, and upskilling business advisers so that the business gateway is ready to help disabled people.
What I would like to say to the audience here and to the committee is that everyone should try in their everyday work to encourage more disabled people to start their own business. We must embrace all minority groups in Scotland, to help the economy to grow. I make a plea to spread the word and to approach the networks for support.
Mr Stuart Landels: I am an officer of Clackmannanshire Council. Today, I am representing the disability awareness group that is based in Clackmannanshire. It is a recipient, in partnership with the council, of European year for disabled people money, to look at raising awareness among transport operators.
I will raise a couple of points on behalf of the group. They have asked me to emphasise the importance of raising awareness about disability. In particular, they would like to see a significant change in culture and attitudes. It is all very well to make physical changes to environments, but it is acknowledged that people have to change and that society has to acknowledge where people with disability are in society.
The group remains concerned that we in Scotland have still not fully embraced the concept
of the social model of disability. We are still very much concerned about bricks and mortarissues about making buildings accessible. Although those issues are important, we must acknowledgethe group would certainly stress the pointthat disability is not only their issue; it is also our issue and it is the Parliament's issue. If we wish to create an inclusive community, we must make the necessary adaptations and changes within society, to enable people with a disability to play a full part in it.
Finally, the group would like to highlight issues of access to employment. Although some quite significant improvements have been made, the group stresses that the benefits issuewhich I realise is not one for the committee as it has no direct responsibility for the matterhas a significant impact on the number of disabled people who enter the employment market.
The Convener: Finally, we have Euan Page. I say "finally" because other people might want to participate and I have a few minutes that would enable them to do that. So, while Euan Page is speaking, those who want to speak could think about what they want to say.
Euan Page: Many of the points that I wanted to make have already been made well by other speakers. I emphasise the large and challenging legislative agenda that is coming up in Scotland, at Westminster and in Europe and the importance of ensuring that the principles and values of the EYDPthe principle that disability is regarded as a human rights issue and as an equality issue that affects every citizenthat are embedded in the Madrid declaration are applied to it.
As has been mentioned, a draft disability bill is to be published at Westminster. We imagine that that bill will have a huge impact on devolved institutions and public authorities in Scotland. Other speakers have mentioned travel. If we could get some form of comprehensive European disability directive, that would have a big impact on ensuring that people can expect the same standards and rights throughout the European Union.
I know that the committee will consider the EYDP in an inquiry after Christmas; the Disability Rights Commission would say that the issues that your predecessor committee pointed out at the start of the year should all be addressed in your inquiry. Poverty and disability, multiple discrimination, the voices of young disabled people, the transition from education to employment and awareness raising in the business community should all be considered. The last issue will be particularly important because of the enormous changes that will happen in October 2004, which will radically affect employment and access to goods and services. Dialogue with the
private sectorin particular, small businesseswill be crucial.
The Scottish social attitudes survey is an important document, and I am sure that it will inform the committee's work. It gives an interesting overview of the encouraging and less encouraging attitudes of wider Scottish society towards disability equality issues.
The Convener: We have at least 10 minutes left in which we can have open questions. If anyone wants to raise questions, to tell the committee about an organisation in which they have been involved and what it has been doing, or to speak to the committee, they can.
John Lennan: I am the facilitator for the patients council at Newcraigs hospital. It is a volunteer group. We supply our clients with internet access, information and basic advocacy and are there as users to support other users in the hospital. We are struggling because we are very short of funds. We operate from a small cupboard and do our best to provide a decent service, which I would like to be enhanced in all mental health facilities in Scotland.
Many of the people with whom I come into contact cannot use a computerthey have never used one beforeand we are trying to set up a place where they can learn. I believe that there is an organisation called Link that does that in the communities down south somewhere, but the Highlands are sparsely populated and funding is hard to get, so I ask the committee to look into getting funding for user groups to help each other.
Douglas Hamilton: I am from Barnardo's Scotland. I thank the committee for organising today's event. So far, it has been excellent and we have heard a lot of issues.
I will mention two things in which Barnardo's has been involved during this European year of disabled people. I gave evidence at the beginning of the EYDP and was critical that not much was known about it, but things have happened and that must be acknowledged.
Through one of the EYDP small grants, young people from our services in Dundee, Inverclyde and West Lothian have been involved in developing a snakes and ladders game as a way of telling other people about their experiences of growing up with various disabilities. Last week, we were visited by the UK Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Andrew Smith, your colleague, Duncan McNeil, and the local Inverclyde MP, all of whom took part in the game. If committee members ever want to have a shot at the game, they are more than welcome to come along and
I also want to thank the Scottish Executive for giving Barnardo's a sizeable grant as part of the European year of disabled people, because it enabled many young people across Scotland to attend our annual conference last Friday. This year's conference was on the theme of disability. Things have been happening and the European year of disabled people has made a difference.
Finally, I want to echo the comments made by Euan Page from the Disability Rights Commission on some of the themes that the committee might explore in its inquiry next year. I would place most stress on the issue of disability and poverty. Our report shows that the cost of raising a disabled child is three times the cost of raising a non-disabled child. Indeed, Mr Ashraf's earlier comments highlighted the necessity of finding ways of supporting families with disabled children to live as normal a life as possible.
Bill Campbell: By day, I am the projects development manager for Inclusion Scotland, which is the first national organisation in Scotland to be wholly run by disabled people for disabled people. We act as a conduit or networking service to get disabled people and disability groups throughout Scotland to network with each other and to share their experiences and resources. Doing so gives them the capacity to consult service providers, local authorities and, ultimately, the Parliament.
For my sins, I also represent the United Kingdom on the European disability forum. From a pan-European perspective, I think that the European year of disabled people has been a success. We were certainly pleased by the excellent work that the Parliament and the equalities unit of the Executive did over the year, and I was interested in the parliamentary debate on the Madrid declaration, which Euan Page mentioned. I advise everyone to go into the European disability forum website and read and sign up to the Madrid declaration; after all, it is only seven or eight pages long.
Three weeks ago, 300 delegates from 28 countries took over the European Parliament in Brussels for two days, and about 80 speakers had three minutes eachthe same length of time many MEPs haveto express views and outline experiences from their own countries. It was absolutely excellent. Elspeth Attwooll, the Scottish MEP, also made a speech and gave a good account of what the people of Scotland should expect from central Government.
As a result of that meeting, we produced two documents. The first is a resolution with 41 clausesit is only four or five pages longthat seeks to bring to politicians' attention the broad
sweep of what disabled people expect from Parliaments across Europe. We have also produced a manifesto that will be sent to all the candidates in next June's European elections. Those documents can be found on the European disability website and I will certainly make them available to the committee.
I ask that the Scottish Parliament seriously consider how national disability organisations such as Inclusion Scotland are funded. We have only two staff members and they are trying to run a national organisation. Moreover, we are funded only year on year, which makes it almost impossible to attract other funding to grow the organisation. I ask the committee to look seriously at sustainable funding for organisations such as Inclusion Scotland, which are run by disabled people for disabled people.
The Convener: Thank you. We have time for only two more speakers.
Grant Gordon: Good morning. My name is Grant Gordon and I represent the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland. I realise that it is perhaps not sensible for an architect to raise their head above the parapet in the present company.
I wanted to let people know, in response to earlier comments, that the Association of Scottish Schools of Architecture has direct links with the Disability Rights Commission. Issues of access to buildings for people with all sorts of disabilities are being addressed and disabled people are being invited into schools of architecture to speak directly to students about the issues that are important to them. We hope that that approach will continue.
Neil Farren: I would like to bring to the committee's attention the state of disrepair of roads and pavements in Renfrewshire. I have contacted Renfrewshire Council umpteen times and put in petitions, but the council is not budging at all in getting the pavements properly sorted. I have had quite a few accidents on the pavements and I have brought that to the council's attention, but it keeps saying that it does not have the finances or the manpower to do the work. It is about time the Parliament brought that to the attention of the roads department. If it would be possible to do that, I would be glad to hear about it.
The Convener: Thank you. I am sorry that I have to wind up this part of the meeting. It is worth noting that all this morning's contributions have been recorded and will be fed into the committee's work on the European year of disabled people. We will have a five-minute break before the committee goes into formal session.
Informal meeting closed at 11:24.
© Scottish Parliament 2003
Prepared 16 December 2003