HC Deb 11 February 1926 vol 191 cc1203-4

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he is aware of the dissatisfaction existing amongst limbless ex-service men owing to the curtailment of the list of limb makers from 14 to 2; and is he prepared to consider the advisability of returning to the former position of having the 14 firms, thereby giving the limbless ex-service men the opportunity of a free choice of limb?


asked the Minister of Pensions if he is aware that dissatisfaction exists among ex-service men who lost limbs during the War, owing to his decision in curtailing the list of artificial limb makers, which prevents them having artificial limbs supplied equal in quality to those supplied before the list was limited; and if he will reconsider the decision, with a view to giving these men a wider choice?


asked the Minister of Pensions whether he is aware that his recent decision in curtailing the list of limb makers limits the choice to a very narrow list; that complaints arising since such decision are on the increase; and whether he is prepared to revert to the practice in operation during the last five years?


I would refer hon. Members to the very full answer which I gave on this subject on the 19th November last of which I am sending them copies. The present arrangements for the supply of artificial metal legs are working quite satisfactorily, and I am not prepared to reconsider them. The few cases in which representations are made for a special make of limb not covered by the present contracts are considered by a Board of Surgeons constituted for the purpose, and, where necessary, in accordance with their advice arrangements are made for the supply of an artificial limb similar to that previously used by the man, though not covered by the present contract.


Is not the result of the present policy practically to create a monopoly, and does not the right hon. Gentleman think that a monopoly of the kind is unsatisfactory, and against the interests of the community?


The hon. Gentleman will be well advised to look at the Report of the Committee where it deals with the question of monopoly. I would remind him that this action of the Government was taken in consequence of the combined refusal of the present firms to tender under the old arrangement.


While it is perfectly true that the existing arrangement may be working perfectly smoothly, is it not, the claim of the ex-service men that the limbs do not work smoothly, and the men want to be able to go to other firms?


If the hon. Gentleman will read the Report of the Committee, upon which ex-service and disabled ex-service men were represented, he will see that the present type of limbs is excedingly good.

Lieut.-Colonel Sir FREDERICK HALL

Is it not the case that the Committee that sat gave careful consideration to the matter and came to a unanimous decision advantageous to the ex-service men?


In reply to that it is the case, as my hon. and gallant Friend suggests, that the Committee realised the importance of the matter with which they were dealing and took into full consideration the point of view of the ex-service men. Their report was unanimous.


Is it true that certain firms are prevented from tendering?


No, Sir!