HC Deb 07 November 1950 vol 480 cc739-40
1. Mr. Vane

asked the Minister of Pensions why it was necessary for a patient, whose name has been sent to him, to travel to Manchester on 19th September, 4th November, 20th December, 1949, and 24th February and 3rd May, 1950, and to Leeds on 6th September and 6th October, 1950, in connection with the repair of an artificial limb; what was the final cost of the repair; and the total amount of travelling and subsistence allowances borne by the public.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Pensions (Mr. Simmons)

It was necessary for the patient to attend the limb fitting centres on the dates named because one or other of his two artificial limbs required repair, adjustment or fitting involving surgical considerations. I am satisfied that the attendances were in the patient's best interests. I am unable to give the cost of the repairs as the makers are paid a flat rate fee for maintaining the limbs in good condition. The travelling and subsistence allowances borne by public funds amount to just over £13.

Mr. Vane

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this patient, who has had experience of wearing an artificial limb since 1917, considered that the only repair necessary was the re-lining of the stump socket, which could have been done in three hours if the system of the hon. Gentleman were sufficiently decentralised to allow of it being done on the spot? Instead, the limbs have to be sent away to Roehampton, sent back for fitting, and then, if not correctly done, sent away again. Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this work is not yet completed, and that my constituent is still waiting for one of his limbs?

Mr. Simmons

The reason the pensioner had to go to two limb fitting centres was that he changed his address and the Leeds centre was a more convenient centre for him than the Manchester centre which he first attended. The various reasons for which he had to attend the limb fitting centres were for the re-measuring of his stump, for the renewal of his socket and the refitting of his corset, the adjustment made to his 1946 leg while he waited, the interim fitting of the socket and the corset of his spare leg, the re-fitting and lining of his 1946 leg, and the passing out of the 1941 leg. All these adjustments were made at his own request. On the number of visits necessary, I must stress that one cannot sling an artificial leg at a man like a ready-made suit; it must be adjusted and readjusted until the wearer is satisfied that he has a complete fit. I am not prepared to compel any limbless man to hobble about on a lacerated stump while we haggle about the cost of a visit to a limb fitting centre, and I am amazed that any hon. Member should be so parsimonius as to grudge this man the best possible attention. In this case the cost to the taxpayer was £13.

Mr. Vane rose


Mr. Speaker

We had a very long supplementary question and we have had a speech in reply, so I think we had better pass to the next Question.