HC Deb 09 March 1970 vol 797 cc900-1
19. Mr. Cronin

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what further consideration he has given to improving the design of the invalid tricycle.

Dr. John Dunwoody

It is expected to introduce an improved and more powerful vehicle with automatic transmission at the end of the year.

Mr. Cronin

While I welcome that statement, may I ask my hon. Friend whether he does not agree that any invalid tricycle, even with these improvements, may still be uncomfortable, unstable and rather unreliable? Is it not by modern standards something of a freak vehicle? Will he give serious consideration to replacing all invalid tricycles by a converted four-wheel vehicle?

Dr. Dunwoody

I have driven the prototype of the new vehicle and I can assure my hon. Friend that it is a very great improvement on the present vehicle. I do not think that users will find it uncomfortable or unstable. A considerable proportion of our invalid drivers can never use ordinary vehicles, however they are adapted, because of the nature of their disabilities, which means that they drive more easily in the invalid vehicles we are at present producing.

Mr. Marten

I, too, have driven the prototype and I agree with some of the Minister's comments, but may I ask whether in this design sufficient space is available for the wheel chair on the back of the vehicle so that the invalid may take a passenger when the Government get round to that?

Dr. Dunwoody

The question of a second seat gives rise to much larger considerations than the cost of putting a second seat in the vehicle. But there is a great deal more room within the vehicle for carrying not only an invalid chair but also other equipment which may be necessary for the individual disabled person.

Mr. Dean

Is the hon. Gentleman saying that there will or will not be room for a passenger in the vehicle when, as we all hope, it will eventually be decided that the disabled person can carry a passenger?

Dr. Dunwoody

There would be room to put a second seat in the prototype vehicle, as it is at the moment, but the decision to do this involves many more considerations than just the expense of putting in a second seat. It would involve greater expenditure in other respects, because of the greater use which might be made of the vehicle, as well as other reasons. One has to take this fact into consideration with other possibilities of extending the service in terms of providing better vehicles for those who have them today and providing transport for those who today are completely denied it.