UK’s first disability minister dies days before Paralympics
Britain's first disability minister has died days before the opening of the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
Alf Morris, who was MP for Manchester Wythenshawe from 1964 to 1997, died on Sunday, it was announced.
His Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970, a private member's bill, was the first piece of legislation devoted to rights for disabled persons and has been hailed as a 'Magna Carta for the disabled'.
The legislation provided rights across the board, including provision for education and sport at home, access to public buildings and the introduction of disabled badges.
"I was just anxious that the policy areas should be on the parliamentary agenda for the first time," he said later in life of the bill, which came into law after surviving the 'wash-up' before the general election.
"I am deeply saddened to learn of the death of Alf Morris," Labour leader Ed Miliband said.
"He was a Labour man through and through. As a member, activist, MP and peer, he always stood up for Labour's values and devoted his career to improving the lives of the less fortunate in Britain’s society."
Morris became Britain's first minister for disabled people in 1974.
Labour's parliamentary party chair Tony Lloyd said that Morris' contribution would not be forgotten during the Games to come.
"The Paralympics, which is going to be a huge success in the days to come, owes a little bit to Alf Morris in changing… attitudes," he told the BBC News Channel.
"He paved the way to say it is possible to have a Paralympic Games here in Britain that will do credit and justice to people with disabilities from around the world.
"So I think Alf may have a little seat in the stands during those Games."
The Paralympics begins on August 29th.