HL Deb 21 January 1970 vol 307 cc127-9

2.41 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assistance is given to organisations whose aim is to rehabilitate people for return to work and, in this respect, whether it has considered the facilities offered by the Head Injuries Rehabilitation Trust, Birmingham.]


My Lords, the Department of Employment and Productivity gives financial assistance to six voluntary organisations and one local authority who provide workshops which the Department is satisfied are providing industrial rehabilitation within the spirit of Section 3 of the Disabled Persons (Employment) Act 1944. The workshops of the Head Injuries Rehabilitation Trust are well known to officers of the Department of Employment and Productivity. In their present form they are not regarded as coming within the requirements of the Act, and the Trust has been advised how the facilities can be adjusted in order to receive further consideration.


My Lords, in thanking the Minister for his reply, may I ask whether he is aware that his two points conflict? Is the noble Lord saying that the Head Injuries Rehabilitation Trust is not complying with the spirit— I repeat, the "spirit"—of Section 3 of the Disabled Persons (Employment) Act 1944? Is the Minister further aware that his Department's objections relate mainly to whether a centre is a place of work or a place of treatment, and to the fact that the centre is not large enough to warrant financial help, despite the success in having returned to work over one-third of its patients without using industrial rehabilitation units? Lastly, is the Minister aware that we are dealing with a most difficult type of accident case and that it is not always possible to segregate those who could return to work from those who could not, which is another of his Department's objections?


My Lords, the Department recognises the valuable work which the Trust has performed, particularly in pioneering rehabilitative treatment of patients with very severe head injuries. The point at issue, though, is that in order to qualify for grant it is necessary for a workshop to simulate an industrial atmosphere, and to provide simulated industrial conditions. As I understand the position, it is not possible for the Trust to do this within its present premises. However, I think the noble Lord will recognice that the Department has taken some steps by liaison arrangements to show its appreciation of the Trust's work and the valuable service which it is rendering.


My Lords, I thank the Minister for his very helpful reply, but may I also ask whether he is aware that when the present regulations were drawn up numbers of head-injury patients—in the main, road accident cases—were almost non-existent? Now, unfortunately, those cases are very much on the increase. Will the Minister kindly consider re-examining the existing regulations governing these cases, and in particular the working of the Disabled Persons (Employment) Act 1944, so that the objects of the Act are fulfilled—




—and so that people who are striving so valiantly to help those in this tragic category receive assistance?


My Lords, the Department recognises the improvements in medical treatment for those with severe head injuries and the bearing which this has on the situation, and is anxious to play its part in making provision to enable those who can do so to return to normal ways of earning employment. I will bring to the attention of my right honourable friend the points which the noble Lord has made.