Oral Answers to Questions

Barry Sheerman Excerpts
Monday 5th February 2024

(4 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I do find that a strange grouping, but not to worry, Minister. Well dealt with! How you got from Cumbria across the country like that is amazing.

Barry Sheerman Portrait Mr Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield) (Lab/Co-op)
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20. What steps he is taking to help ensure workplaces are accessible for autistic people.

Mel Stride Portrait The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mel Stride)
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Autistic people have a huge amount to offer in the workforce, which is why we set up the Buckland review in April 2023, led by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for South Swindon (Sir Robert Buckland), to look at the barriers to autistic people gaining employment and to ensure that we have a more inclusive workforce for them.

Barry Sheerman Portrait Mr Sheerman
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May I push the Minister on what progress has been made by the Buckland review? Will he also remind jobcentres up and down the country that people on the autism spectrum have great talents and often need only slight workplace modifications of simple things such as lighting or noise levels? This could open up a source of real talent for our country.

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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The hon. Gentleman is entirely right. Small changes can often make a big difference, not just for autistic people but for the businesses they go on to serve and work in. He will have to be a little more patient about the Buckland review report coming out, but it will not be long. I also point him to the Access to Work and Disability Confident approaches, which both do exactly what he suggests.

--- Later in debate ---
Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his representation, and indeed would be grateful for any others that he is minded to make to me as we conduct our ongoing review on where we go with the household support fund.

Barry Sheerman Portrait Mr Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield) (Lab/Co-op)
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When will the Minister wake up to the fact that working as an apprentice in engineering is a fabulous career choice, and well paid? Will she come up to Huddersfield to look at Cummins, whose apprentice system is first rate?

Jo Churchill Portrait Jo Churchill
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I would be delighted to do so on my tour of England. I could not agree more with the hon. Gentleman. My father is an engineer. It is a fantastic profession, and the more we can encourage apprenticeships right across the board, the better. Nearly 6 million people have now taken them up. I would be delighted to come.