HC Deb 25 November 1947 vol 444 cc1775-6
28. Colonel Wheatley

asked the Minister of Pensions if he is aware of the long delay in delivering artificial limbs, etc., to ex-Service men and women; and will he take urgent measures to remedy this state of affairs which causes much extra suffering.

Mr. Buchanan

The hon. and gallant Member will be pleased to know that there is in general no undue delay at the present time in the delivery of artificial limbs to ex-Service men and women. There have been difficulties with the supply of surgical boots and appliances. I am, however, glad to say that additional labour experienced in the making of surgical boots has been obtained and as a result production is now showing a welcome increase. Difficulties still exist as regards skilled labour for the making of surgical appliances but the combined production of my contractors is now about equal to the current demands of the war disabled. More skilled labour is still required to overtake outstanding orders and I am continuing my efforts to this end with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour.

Colonel Wheatley

Is the Minister aware that it has taken an ex-soldier four years to get a replacement for an appliance for his arm and that even now he has got it, it is incorrect and he has to go through with the business again?

Mr. Buchanan

As I stated, the position is a great deal better. For instance, in October our supply of surgical boots was almost 2,000 and our needs were just about 1,500, so we now have a slight excess in supply. I would not say that the position is absolutely equal but I can assure the hon. and gallant Member that it has been somewhat improved.

Mr. Lipson

Can the hon. Gentleman say how many outstanding orders there are?

Mr. Buchanan

I would not like to say without notice, but if the hon. Gentleman puts down a Question I will gladly supply the information.

Lord Willoughby de Eresby

Now that there has been some improvement in the supply of artificial limbs, will the hon. Gentleman turn his attention and energy to the supply of stump socks, which is still falling behind?

Mr. Buchanan

I answered a Question about that rather fully last week. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will look at that, and if he has any other point to raise, I would be grateful if he would put a Question down.

Commander Galbraith

Is the hon. Gentleman aware of the very great delay in the repair of artificial limbs, and will he look into the matter?

Mr. Buchanan

I am assured that the position has improved. I went down to Roehampton, which is our main place, and found the position a good deal better; but the real difficulty is in getting the very highly skilled labour. We cannot allow just anybody to do this work, and the highly skilled labour which is necessary is just not available in the abundance one would like.

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