HC Deb 12 July 1949 vol 467 cc185-8
12. Mr. Sidney Shephard

asked the Minister of Pensions the conditions under which a disabled person may qualify for an invalid tricycle.

The Minister of Pensions (Mr. Marquand)

A disabled pensioner may qualify for an invalid tricycle if he has suffered amputation of both legs, one amputation being above the knee, or is suffering from paraplegia or his disability results in total or almost total loss of the use of his legs, or he is so badly disabled as to need a machine in order to obtain or retain employment.

Mr. Shephard

Can the Minister say how many applications for these tricycles have been received, how many have been granted, and how many tricycles have been issued up to date?

Mr. Marquand

I should require notice of that question. The tricycles are available under the National Health Service as well as under this scheme for war pensioners.

Squadron-Leader Fleming

In a case where a disabled person has applied for a motor car and that application has been refused, is he bound to apply a second time for a tricycle?

Mr. Marquand

I should think that where a person has applied for a motor car and has been told that he is not eligible, at the same time he would be told whether he is eligible for a tricycle.

Captain John Crowder

Is the Minister satisfied that these three-wheeled vehicles are as safe as motor cars? Is it not a fact that they turn over much more easily?

Mr. Marquand

There is another Question on the Order Paper which, I think, will answer that point.

Mr. Peter Freeman

Are the conditions for the issue of self-propelled invalid chairs the same as those for the issue of tricycles?

Mr. Marquand

Invalid chairs can be provided instead of tricycles, if preferred, or they can be provided subject to approval by my medical advisers where considered necessary.

Mr. Shurmer

On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. Might I call attention to a lady using opera glasses in the Gallery?

14. Mr. Charles Smith

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he will make a statement on the proposals of his Department for a new type of enclosed motor tricycle for disabled persons.

Mr. Marquand

The new type of motor tricycle embodies a number of new features based on experience of the special needs of seriously disabled persons. Complete weather protection is provided. The tricycle has a hood which can be easily opened or closed by the seated driver. A very wide door makes it easy for the disabled man to get in and out. Special attention has been paid to the springing of the chassis and upholstery in order to give maximum insulation from road shocks and engine vibration. All the controls are hand operated, the throttle and brake controls being on the steering wheel, which is of the aircraft type. The machine is fitted with a self-starter. It has good hill climbing qualities. At the back there is an enclosed compartment containing a folding hand-propelled chair. The tricycle has been driven in the course of its tests by seriously disabled men who have testified to its comfort, and to the ease with which it can be driven.

Mr. Smith

While we appreciate the action of the Ministry in effecting these improvements in design, can my right hon. Friend say anything about the relative cost of one of these improved tricycles and one of the cars which his Ministry have issued? In view of the obviously great superiority of the motor car, can he not declare that it is his ultimate policy to extend the issue of cars to all categories of disabled persons who will qualify for the motor tricycle under the present plan?

Mr. Marquand

No, Sir. The tricycles are provided now. They are being issued continuously. An improved version is being provided. In addition, I have been able to provide, as I have already said more than once, not more than 1,500 motor cars over a period of two years. Questions about what might happen at the end of that time might more appropriately be put within a few months of the expiry of those two years, and not now.

Mr. Cecil Poole

Would my right hon. Friend consider placing on view somewhere in the precincts of the Palace of Westminster one of these motor tricycles so that hon. Members can see what his Department are doing for the disabled ex-Service man?

Mr. Marquand

If I were aware of a general demand for that, I should gladly do so.

Mr. Joynson-Hicks

When is it hoped to start the issue of the new type of motor tricycle?

Mr. Marquand

I answered a Question on that point a week or two ago. Certainly by the end of the year: I hope before.

Mr. Gallacher

As I have written to the Minister on this question, is he not fully aware that many of these crippled men require constant attention, and would it not be desirable to provide small two-seater cars so that the wife or some friend can be with them continuously?

Mr. Marquand

That is one of the reasons why 1,500 four-seater cars are being provided.