HC Deb 02 February 1971 vol 810 cc1445-7
12. Mr. Molloy

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will take steps to assist disabled tricycle owners, in view of the difficulties experienced by them in obtaining fuel for their vehicles.

Mr. Alison

I am not aware of difficulty in obtaining fuel for the invalid three-wheelers.

Mr. Molloy

From now on the Minister will be aware, because I am going to tell him, that there is a serious shortage of this two-stroke oil and petrol mixture which invalids use in their invalid carriage—many of them to go to and from work. What they are experiencing now, particularly in Middlesex, is that garages find that it is not worth——

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman must not use a supplementary question to impart information; he must seek it.

Mr. Molloy

I thought that I had, Mr. Speaker. With permission, may I now ask the Minister whether he is aware that this is a grave problem, particularly in Middlesex? People who use these tricycles to go to work, to return home from work, and for other reasons, are discovering that garages are not stocking this mixture. This is a very serious problem, and I should be grateful if the hon. Gentleman would examine it.

Mr. Alison

I shall certainly examine it. The indications are that petrol stations, stocking the two-stroke mixture have not, in any noticeable sense, been reduced in number. However, if the hon. Gentleman would like to send me details, particularly of his part of the world, I shall gladly look into them.

Mr. Marten

If there is to be a national shortage of fuel, as is forecast by some sections of the Press, will my hon. Friend take particular care to ensure that the disabled do not suffer from it? Second, will he discuss with the Chancellor of the Exchequer the possibility of raising the allowance for petrol for these vehicles for the disabled?

Mr. Alison

The second part of that question lies outside the scope of an immediate answer. The answer to the first part is that we would hope to make any provision that was possible to protect vulnerable sections of the population from emergencies such as this.

Mr. Crawshaw

Will the hon. Gentleman be a little more helpful and tell the House when it is proposed to withdraw the one-seater tricycle and supply a two-seater car? Would not he agree that the present vehicle is not only anti-social but must, of necessity, mean that if a break-down occurs away from home a disabled person is left without any immediate help?

Mr. Alison

That goes rather wide of the Question. I know the hon. Gentleman's concern in this matter but he, in return, will know that one-seaters have certain advantages, in the sense that they provide space for taking in collapsible wheelchairs.

Sir R. Cary

May I ask my hon. Friend whether he will add to his pleading to the Chancellor of the Exchequer a plea to increase the supply of mini-cars to the disabled?

Mr. Alison

The supply of mini-cars to the disabled forms part of the review of the whole invalid vehicle service which my right hon. Friend is carrying out, and the results will be announced to the House in due course.

Mr. Alfred Morris

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that much the most helpful thing that he could do for many tricycle owners would be to give them four-wheeled vehicles? Would he agree with Graham Hill and others who have been in touch with me that this could be done at no greater cost per car? Finally, will the hon. Gentleman keep in the closest possible consultation with the Disabled Drivers Association, the Hœmophilia Society and other organisations concerned with this problem?

Mr. Alison

We keep closely in touch with all those associations. But the hon. Gentleman will appreciate that the three-wheeler, with its peculiarly light steering, is an essential form of mobility for some categories of disabled people.