HC Deb 04 December 1961 vol 650 cc927-9
52. Mr. E. Johnson

asked the Minister of Health if he will seek powers to provide a small car for married couples instead of two powered tricycles in cases where both husband and wife are eligible for, or have already been provided with, such tricycles by his Department.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health (Miss Edith Pitt)

No, Sir.

Mr. Johnson

Is it not the case that there must be very few married couples indeed who each have an individual powered tricycle? Would not the cost of replacing them by a small car be very small? Is it not quite absurd to see two people setting out on a journey together each on a separate tricycle when they might go in a small car with no greater loss to public funds?

Miss Pitt

There are, in fact, a number of married couples who each qualify for a tricycle, but the provision of cars has been traditionally part of the preferential treatment for war pensioners, and I am afraid that my right hon. Friend cannot make any exceptions.

Mr. Snow

Is the hon. Lady aware that the idea that only war disabled persons should receive these cars is thoroughly out-of-date and does not commend itself to people who have as good a right as many ex-Service men?

Miss Pitt

I am afraid I do not argee with the hon. Member. I think there is still a general feeling that war pensioners deserve preferential treatment.

Mr. Marshall

In view of the questions which have been put to my hon. Friend, could she say how much this proposal would cost?

Miss Pitt

It would be cheaper to supply a car than two tricycles, but what I think my hon. Friends forget in looking at this picture—I realise the sympathy it commands—is that if there were only one car for two people there would be a lesser degree of mobility for the two disabled persons.

53. Mr. K. Robinson

asked the Minister of Health if he will take steps to arrange for the gradual replacement of power-propelled tricycles provided for National Health Service patients by two-seater cars as supplied to the war-disabled; and what would be the aggregate cost.

Miss Pitt

No, Sir. The latest estimate of cost was given in a reply by my right hon. and learned Friend, the Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) on 2nd May, 1960.

Mr. Robinson

Is the hon. Lady not aware that the Minister's predecessor expressed a wish that this extension of provision should be made at some time? Is she aware that the provision of the single-seater tricycles frequently leads to domestic difficulties, particularly in the case of seriously disabled mothers with children, whom they can never take out? Will she indicate whether this proposal has any priority in her Department?

Miss Pitt

I have nothing to add to what was said in the debate we held last year.

Mr. S. Silverman

Could the hon. Lady explain a little further one of the previous answers she gave? I understood her to say at one point that the difficulty was that cars were reserved for war pensioners but at another point she seemed to be saying that it was better to have two tricycles than one car. Why, then, penalise the war pensioners?

Miss Pitt

I answered that in reply to a previous question.

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