UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Parliamentary debate

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On Thursday 24 November 2022, Marsha De Cordova MP led a Backbench Business Committee debate on the UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

In preparation for the debate, she asked to hear from the public about their experiences, concerns and suggestions related to disabled people.

She thanked all those who responded during the debate:

"669 people contributed to this debate by sharing their experiences, which demonstrates just how important it is.
"I want to thank each and everyone of those people, and acknowledge their thoughtful, moving and detailed responses which have helped me prepare for [my debate] today..."
Marsha de Cordova MP

Watch her full thank you message:

Full transcript available further down the page

Full transcript available further down the page

She and several other MPs addressed many of the points contributors raised, including:

  • Energy prices, particularly the costs of heating and powering specialist equipment
  • Benefits and financial support, including the disability cost of living payment and carer’s support allowance
  • Other cost of living issues
  • Accessible transport
  • Employment
  • Stories about the circumstances and achievements of specific disabled people
  • Engagement with disabled people in designing and evaluating policies and programmes.

If you contributed to this exercise, please answer two quick about your experience of taking part:

Read the debate transcript:

Hansard: UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Watch the debate:

Link to watch the debate

Watch the debate with British Sign Language interpretation:

Link to watch the debate with British Sign Language interpretation

The Government's response

The Minister of State at the Department for Work and Pensions, Tom Pursglove MP, responded to the debate. He addressed the Government’s current policy agenda and future ambitions related to disability.

Watch or read his full speech for details on a range of topics including:

For an overview of Government policy, see the following publications from the House of Commons Library:

Introducing the debate, Marsha De Cordova MP gave the following statement:

"The UN International Day for Disabled People will take place on 3 December, and this year’s theme is about looking at transformative solutions and innovative ideas to continue to create a more inclusive, accessible and an equitable society for disabled people.
"There are approximately 14 million disabled people in the UK, and if you add carers to that, the number rises to 20 million. We already know that the impact of the pandemic and other challenges such as the cost of living has fallen heavily on disabled people.
"I strongly believe that we all need the opportunity not only to celebrate the many achievements of disabled people, but also to discuss and debate some of those creative and innovative solutions to actually improving their lives."
Marsha De Cordova MP
Parliamentary portrait of Marsha De Cordova MP

How it works

What are Backbench Business debates?

Backbench Business debates give backbenchers (MPs of any party who are not ministers or shadow ministers) an opportunity to secure a debate on a topic of their choice, either in the House of Commons Chamber or in Westminster Hall.

MPs can make a request for a debate to the Backbench Business Committee, who hears and decides which debates to schedule.

The debates can either be general debates (which do not end in a vote) or be on a substantive motion (which calls for an action and can end in a vote). This will be a general debate.

How your contributions are shared

In these exercises, members of the public who have signed relevant petitions or are subscribed to related parliamentary newsletters are invited to share their experiences and ideas.

These are passed on to the MP leading the debate, who may refer to them directly in their speeches.

Find other petitions on the Petitions website, or see more examples of public contributions being used in debates below

Sign up to the Your UK Parliament newsletter for latest info on free activities online and around the UK to help you get involved and make a difference. 

What happens next?

If you shared your email in the survey, we’ll send you an update after the debate with links to watch it, read the transcript, and information about the Government's response.

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Get involved

Free workshops

Our outreach team can visit you in your community, and deliver free workshops and presentations on how to take action and be heard.

EMPOWER! Workshop for adults with learning disabilities

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Disability history month resource

This illustrated booklet contains stories of influential people who have impacted disability related UK laws and equal rights.

Your Story, Our History: Disability History Month

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Photo credit: UK Parliament / Jessica Taylor