HC Deb 23 November 1964 vol 702 cc898-9
3. Mr. Hale

asked the Minister of Health how many mechanically-propelled vehicles were supplied for the use of seriously disabled persons during each of the five years from 15th October 1959, to 15th October, 1964; and how many applications were refused.

Sir B. Stross

As the Answer contains a table of figures, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT. The table shows the number of cases rejected by my Department's headquarters office in each of the last three years.

Mr. Hale

Is my hon. Friend aware that he can now add one in view of a letter which I have received today? Is it not a fact that the present restrictions on supply are wholly unimaginative and that under recent regulations if one member of the family has a leg amputated below the knee somebody else from the same family must also have a leg amputated in order to have one of these vehicles supplied? Will my hon. Friend seriously reconsider the whole question of the regulations and of increasing the supply of these facilities as an intelligent contribution to planned employment and improved social services?

Sir B. Stross

If my hon. Friend will wait he will find that on a later Question almost all his points will be answered.

Lord Balniel

Will the hon. Gentleman undertake a general review of regulations governing the issue of these mechanical vehicles? In particular, will the hon. Gentleman make it possible for two-seater vehicles to be issued to widowed mothers who otherwise cannot go out with their children? Apart from humanitarian reasons, is not this desirable for the mental development of the children?

Sir B. Stross

As I said to my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale), my right hon. Friend will answer that very point on a later Question. I am sure the hon. Member knows that legislation would be essential if we were to make any change.

Following are the figures: Issues of mechanically propelled vehicles to new patients (England and Wales):—
  • Year ended 30th September, 1960 1,836
  • Year ended 30th September, 1961 2,019
  • Year ended 30th September, 1962 2,419
  • Year ended 30th September, 1963 2,486
  • Year ended 30th September, 1964 2,590
Applications refused at Headquarters:—
  • Year ended 30th September, 1962 562
  • Year ended 30th September, 1963 647
  • Year ended 30th September, 1964 866
41. Mr. Bryant Godman Irvine

asked the Minister of Health whether he will allow any registered disabled person who is eligible for an invalid carriage to elect to receive a cash sum equal to the cost of an invalid carriage in lieu, on proof that he has purchased a motor car.

Sir B. Stross

No, Sir.

Mr. Godman Irvine

Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that an invalid carriage is a very unsatisfactory method of transport for a family man? Would he not further agree that it takes up to 9 months for the conversion cost to be repaid to somebody who gets a conversion? In these circumstances, will not the hon. Gentleman agree that it is better to have another look at the position?

Sir B. Stross

The hypothesis may be correct, but my right hon. Friend's function is to provide services and not cash payments, which he has no right to offer.