Ian Davies and Chris Hatton have written to Jeremy Hunt, the Chair of the Health and Social Care House of Commons Select Committee and Greg Clark , the Chair of the Science and Technology House of Commons Select Committee.
Ian Davies is a self-advocate and founding member of Northamptonshire People First.
Chris Hatton is Professor of Social Care at Manchester Metropolitan University.
Their letter raises their concerns that no one with a learning disability was included as an expert witness in the spoken evidence session of the Coronavirus: Lessons Learnt Inquiry.
The letter says: “We believe that when any select committee session is about people with learning disabilities, then a person with learning disabilities should give evidence as a full expert witness with equal status to other expert witnesses.”
Because there was no person with learning disabilities invited to be part of the expert witness panel, Ian and Chris jointly made an offer that they could give joint evidence to the session.
Their offer was refused on the grounds that there wasn’t time for this.
The letter says: “We were sad and angry about this rejection”.
Learning Disability England supports Ian and Chris’s request that:
Chairs of all the select committees should get together to agree that they will include people with learning disabilities as expert witnesses in spoken evidence sessions about people with learning disabilities.
Select committee chairs should also take advice from people with learning disabilities about the best ways to include people so they feel comfortable being an expert witness
The Chairs should come up with some rules and guidance to help select committees do this.
On 21st December Jeremy Hunt MP replied to their letter.
The reply says that the Select Committees are committed to including people with learning disabilities.
But that there was not enough time for them to speak during this Inquiry.
Chris and Ian are now talking to other members and partners about how best to respond.