HC Deb 15 November 1965 vol 720 cc673-4
34. Mr. Woodhouse

asked the Minister of Health what priority he has assigned to the provisions of specially adapted mini-cars instead of three-wheeled one-seater vehicles for all severely disabled National Health Service patients in relation to other desirable improvements in National Health Service facilities.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health (Mr. Charles Loughlin)

I would refer the hon. Member to my right hon. Friend's reply to his Question on 29th March last.

Mr. Woodhouse

Will the Parliamentary Secretary ask his right hon. Friend if he recollects 18 months ago, when he was in:he position of Opposition spokesman on health matters, writing a letter to a disabled constituent of mine, Mr. Peter McBride, in which he was strongly critical of the present position and attacked the Conservative Government for maintaining it, and asked whether it was at that time the standard reply?

Mr. Loughlin

I feel sure that my right hon. Friend will have heard what the hon. Member has said, but may I assure the hon. Member that this matter is to be reviewed early next year? It is continually under review and the review will continue next year and we shall do what we can when the time comes.

Mr. Bagier

Will my hon. Friend look especially at this problem in view of the social implications? Will he look closely at the circumstances where a disabled individual is not allowed to have a partner in the car, or even a friend, in cases of breakdown? Will he especially look at this matter from that angle?

Mr. Loughlin

I can assure my hon. Friend that I am very conscious of the social implications of the present position, but in the review we shall make we shall have to take into consideration not only those who are in receipt of these vehicles but also those who so far have not been able to receive a vehicle even though they have been disabled.

Mr. Bessell

Will the hon. Gentleman take account of the fact that a four-wheeled vehicle is not only safer for the passenger and the driver but also for pedestrians and other road users? Will he give this matter urgent attention?

Mr. Loughlin

I shall certainly give the matter urgent attention, but I ought to make quite clear to the House that we are satisfied that the present three-wheeled vehicle is safe both for the pedestrian and the user of the vehicle, provided it is reasonably used and maintained at maximum efficiency. I should not like anyone to be under the impression that it is unsafe.

Sir A. V. Harvey

Will the hon. Gentleman take into account that even with a mini-car getting a wheel-chair on to the car poses a great problem, whereas with a Ford Anglia or Morris 1000 a chair can be put aboard?

Mr. Loughlin

We take into account the problem of loading and unloading an invalid chair and so far as humanly possible we do whatever we can to assist pensioners and patients, and this will be taken into account in any review.