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MSP urges Scots to have their say on disability commissioner proposal

Scottish Conservative MSP Jeremy Balfour is calling for more responses to his Disability Commissioner (Scotland) Bill (Russell Cheyne/PA)
Scottish Conservative MSP Jeremy Balfour is calling for more responses to his Disability Commissioner (Scotland) Bill (Russell Cheyne/PA)

A Scottish Conservative MSP has urged Scots to have their say on proposals that would see the appointment of a disability commissioner as a consultation closes on Wednesday.

Jeremy Balfour says responses to his Disability Commissioner (Scotland) Bill have so far been “positive”, with support coming from organisations including MS Society Scotland and Camphill Scotland.

The Lothian MSP is now encouraging those who have not already responded to have their say in order for him to present the strongest possible backing to Holyrood as he seeks cross-party support.

A disability commissioner would play a similar role to that of the Children and Young People’s Commissioner, and would act as a port of call for people with a disability – whether physical, learning or hidden.

They would also promote the rights of disabled people in Scotland.

Mr Balfour says the pandemic highlighted the inequalities faced by disabled people, and thanked everyone who has responded to the consultation, which opened on May 12, so far.

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

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

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

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

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