HC Deb 09 May 1978 vol 949 cc952-3
2. Mr. Hannam

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when he last met the chairman of Motability; and if he will make a statement.

The Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Security (Mr. Alfred Morris)

I met Lord Goodman on 26th April, when I attended a meeting of the new organisation. Motability has made very good progress toward its objective of enabling disabled people who wish to obtain a vehicle to get maximum value for their money. In particular, during the summer it will launch a car-leasing scheme for recipients of the mobility allowance. I pay warm tribute to the work of Lord Goodman and his colleagues and welcome the degree of co-operation they are receiving from motor manufacturers, the banks and the many other interests with which they are in touch.

Mr. Hannam

In view of the very high cost of purchasing adapted or specialist vehicles for the disabled, does the Minister accept that the Motability leasing scheme will use up every penny of the mobility allowance? Will he therefore lend his full support to the disablement organisations' campaign for exemption from vehicle excise duty?

Mr. Morris

I am familiar with the many claims for further help. The Opposition parties last night took out of the kitty in a full year some £370 million. That does not make it easier to provide new help for the disabled. The hon. Gentleman has a distinguished role in this area, as secretary of the All-Party Disablement Group. I shall continue to do whatever I can to improve matters in this area.

Dr. M. S. Miller

Notwithstanding the difficulties caused by the Opposition's action last night, will my hon. Friend confirm that the leasing period for a car will be four years? Will he indicate how much money the Government will be putting into the pockets and purses of disabled people during that time?

Mr. Morris

There is a proposal that the car-leasing scheme should cover a four-year period. By the end of 1979 we expect there to be 125,000 beneficiaries of the mobility allowance. That means that we expect to spend £65 million a year on the mobility allowance by the end of 1979. Over the four-year leasing period, if that is the period, the amount being supplied by the Government to spend with Motability, if that is what disabled people wish, will be £260 million. That figure does not take into account any uprating.

Mrs. Chalker

Does the Minister accept that, however successful Motability is, there will remain a residual requirement for those who cannot benefit from a conventional motor car? Will he tell the House what action is being taken further to research a specialised vehicle which will be needed for a small proportion of people long after Motability has satisfied other needs?

Mr. Morris

I appreciate that point. We are keeping in touch with developments in specialised vehicles and adaptations of production cars for the disabled. We have commissioned the Motor Industry Research Association to study and identify how best the needs of the disabled for personal road transport can be met. I shall be keeping in close touch with all developments in this important area.