The Prime Minister has urged an independent equality body to re-think its decision to abolish the post of disability rights commissioner after lobbying from an MP.
Shipley MP Philip Davies said the decision by the Equality and Human Rights Commission to appoint Lord Shinkwin but later withdraw the position went against what the organisation should be doing.
Speaking in Prime Minister’s Questions in the Commons Mr Davies said: “Last year the government advertised for the post of disability commissioner and Lord Shinkwin applied for the position, and was appointed to the position but only a few weeks later he was told by the Equality and Human Rights Commission that the post had been abolished altogether.
“Was the Prime Minister consulted about that decision, does she agree with the decision to abolish the post and if not can I ask her to urge the EHRC to reinstate the post of disability commissioner and reinstate Lord Shinkwin to his rightful place.”
Lord Shinkwin was told just 36 hours before he was due to attend his first EHRC board meeting that the role of disability commission had been made “redundant” and that he had only been appointed as a commissioner.
Theresa May said Lord Shinkwin was a “valiant champion” for the rights of disabled people and a “fine example” of how disabled people can be “standing up, speaking up and ensuring they are taking their rightful place in public life.”
The PM added: “The EHRC is an independent body and it was their decision to abolish the disability commissioner. The question is what is being done to help disabled people and how can we ensure we are helping disabled people and that is why we are committed to tacking the injustices that disabled people face. We are spending over £50 billion a year on benefits to support disabled people and people with health conditions, that is a record high but of course we do want to ensure, and I would urge the EHRC to ensure, that in their work they are paying proper attention to the needs and rights of disabled people because it is an important part of their remit.”
Mr Davies branded EHRC’s claim a position was not needed as all staff champion the needs of disabled people as “ridiculous” and urged Lord Shinkwin to be re-instated to a post dedicated to fighting for disabled people immediately.