HC Deb 07 March 1955 vol 538 cc24-6
24 Mr. Simmons

asked the Minister of Health (1) how many disabled ex-Service men are at present using cars supplied to them under the Ministry of Pensions scheme now administered by his Department;

(2) how many new cars have been delivered from the manufacturers for the use of disabled ex-Service men since 1951;

(3) how many badly disabled war pensioners, other than those suffering a double amputation, who are borderline cases similar to Mr. John Kennedy Macleod, have been refused cars since 1951.

Mr. Iain Macleod

One thousand nine hundred and thirty-seven war pensioners are using motor cars and 405 new cars have been delivered since 1st January, 1951. No figures are available of the number of war pensioners with disabilities like those in the case mentioned who have been refused motor cars.

Mr. Simmons

Can the Minister say how many of these category C cases, or cases making a claim under category C, have been turned down and whether his supply of cars meets not only the official need, but also the potential need, if humanity were displayed towards such people as Mr. John Kennedy Macleod?

Mr. Macleod

As regards the individual case mentioned, the hon. Gentleman will realise, I am sure, that I merely act as the agent for the supply of the car and that the question of eligibility is one for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland. As far as the general supply of cars is concerned, as I said to the hon. Gentleman in answer to a Question last week, every case that is considered eligible can be met. The difficulty in the case mentioned—as I understand it from reading the Adjournment debate, and so on—was that although that case has been reviewed many times, it was not considered to come within the standard rules.

Mr. Marquand

Is the right hon. Gentleman still authorised to go up to 2,000, because I noted that he is rather short of that number?

Mr. Macleod

The figures which I have given are short of that number, but there are, in fact, a number of new cars available and cars from other sources which bring the total number to 2,002.

Sir D. Robertson

Is my right hon. Friend aware that Mr. John Kennedy Macleod is a constituent of mine, that he has a double amputation and, in addition, other very serious wounds? Is my right hon. Friend also aware that Mr. Macleod was granted a motor-tricycle under Category C. but that under the same category he is refused a car?

Mr. Macleod

My hon. Friend will, I am sure, realise that if Mr. Macleod were considered eligible, a car could be provided for him. But the question of eligibility is not one for me; I merely act as the agent for supply only.

Mr. H. Morrison

Am I right in inferring from what the right hon. Gentleman has said that there are two Ministers responsible for these matters in Scotland, that the right hon. Gentleman is the supplying Minister and that the Secretary of State for Scotland is the allocating Minister? Does it not tend to create a muddle if two Ministers are doing the same thing in Scotland? I do not remember another such case. If that be so, to what Minister ought Questions to be addressed?

Mr. Macleod

The question of eligibility is entirely a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland. It does not create a muddle, because, as a matter of fact, exactly similar arrangements were in operation when my Ministry acted as agent for the old Ministry of Pensions. All that I am saying is that my job is to act only as the agent of supply. Any question regarding the case ventilated this afternoon is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland.

Mr. Morrison

In that case, is this Question on the Order Paper not one about eligibility, and, therefore, whose responsibility is it, the Secretary of State for Scotland or the Minister of Health? Why is the right hon. Gentleman answering Questions about Scotland?

Mr. Macleod

I am not, and if the right hon. Gentleman will study the Question a little more closely he will see that the hon. Member for Brierley Hill (Mr. Simmons) asks whether I have information about "borderline cases similar to" a particular one. I have no responsibility at all for that case. Of course, I should have to answer Questions about similar cases if they came within the purview of England and Wales.

Mr. Simmons

Will the Minister say whether he is in favour of this delay and, sometimes, treble control of the welfare of ex-Service men? Is it not an outcome of the ill-advised merger of the Ministry of Pensions that we now have three Departments all fighting each other as to whose responsibility it is and "passing the buck" to each other when these problems are under discussion?

Mr. Macleod

That is quite untrue. In fact, a similar responsibility existed before.