You may already be aware that I am speaking in the Scottish Parliament today about the Tory Government's attempt to take the UK out of the EHCR - the EU's protection of our universal human rights.
So it is particularly important, I think, to bear in mind that people with disabilities would be especially vulnerable if such a withdrawal took place.
The SNP has today welcomed the publication of the Scottish Government's disability action plan which willl ensure Scotland protects the human rights of disabled people and honoours the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).
The action plan has 50 commitments, developed with stakeholders, which are set to be delivered between 2016 and 2020. it will will build upon the Scottish Government’s strong record on the promotion and enhancement of disability rights – including legislating to give disabled people greater control over the support they receive and setting up a new Scottish Independent Living Fund.
This follows reports in the media that the United Nations is investigating the UK Government’s disability benefit reforms. UK Ministers have recently suggested that the number of disabled people who receive Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) will be reduced by 1 million, potentially including the most disabled.
I welcome this new Plan which will ensure that we in Scotland lead the way on the promotion and enhancement of the human rights of disabled people. Everyone has an equal right to live an independent and fulfilling life. We must not and cannot discriminate against those who have particular health issues to struggle with already.
I have seen, over and over again, the horrific impact upon the lives of thousands of folk whose Disability Living Allowance has either been withdrawn completely or cut in half. Then there is the additional issue of the number of people who have died within weeks of being told that they were 'fit for work.'
The SNP government has embedded the principles of independent living in the Self-Directed Support Act, which ensures that disabled people have more choice and control over the support they receive. A new Scottish Independent Living Fund has also been established and opened up to new claimants – following the UK Government’s heartless decision to close the scheme.
It is interesting that the callous approach of the Westminster government has caught the attention of the United Nations who plan to examine more closely the impact of Mr Osborne's cuts upon the human rights of those people already leading a challenging life.