HC Deb 13 February 1968 vol 758 cc1120-1
12. Mr. Marten

asked the Minister of Health if he will initiate a research project to discover why only about one quarter of drivers eligible for invalid tricycles actually apply for them.

82. Mr. Ednyfed Hudson Davies

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that the majority of disabled persons entitled to invalid tricycles do not apply for them; whether he is satisfied with the adequacy of the machines; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Snow

The total number of disabled people who might be entitled to invalid tricycles and who do not apply for them is not known and I do not think that a research project would be appropriate. I am satisfied that the vehicles are well designed for their purpose.

Mr. Marten

Is it not rather curious that the Ministry should not know how many people are entitled to them but do not have them? Is the hon. Gentleman aware that three-quarters of the people entitled do not apply? Will he look at this again and do something about it?

Mr. Snow

I do not know that three-quarters of the people entitled do not apply. That sounds like conjecture. If the hon. Gentleman has any evidence, I shall be glad to know about it. Eligibility depends, naturally, on medical examination of the applicant. We have no reason to suppose that these vehicles are not suitable for the many and varied types of disablement with which we have to cope.

Mr. Barnett

Is it true that the Department does not buy a slightly better vehicle at a similar price in order to keep down demand?

Mr. Snow

That is quite untrue.

Mr. Dean

If the hon. Gentleman does not know this basic information, on what can he base the new proposals before Parliament about invalid tricycles?

Mr. Snow

The new proposals incorporated in the Bill now under discussion in Committee are merely powers to provide additional categories of vehicles when resources permit.

Mr. Tinn

If my hon. Friend cannot assure us authoritatively that a large number of people do not apply for these vehicles, is one not led to assume that there is something in the claim that many people are deterred because of the unsuitability of the vehicles?

Mr. Snow

All vehicles, whether disabled persons' vehicles or ordinary cars, are capable of improvement. That is self-evident. As to the lack of evidence of people who might apply and who are entitled, in fact many people do not want to draw attention to their disabilities by applying for vehicles. We are anxious to help on three-wheeled vehicles where we can.

Sir J. Langford-Holt

The hon. Gentleman has said that, in his view, the design is satisfactory. Is he implying by that that a new design has come out recently, because the vast majority of designs available today are quite disgraceful?

Mr. Snow

I would not agree that they are disgraceful. I do not know whether the hon,. Gentleman has had experience of them. We have tried them out. Of course, they can be improved, and so can any car. They are being improved, and there are designs for future production.