HL Deb 24 May 1977 vol 383 cc1167-70

2.52 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 controls are exercised to see that stickers indicating a disabled driver are only issued to those entitled to display this sign in a motor car.

Baroness STEDMAN

My Lords, descriptions of persons eligible to apply for orange badges under the scheme of parking concessions for the disabled and the rules governing the issue of these badges are contained in the Disabled Persons (Badges for Motor Vehicles) Regulations 1975. It is the responsibility of local authorities to issue the badges in accordance with the regulations.


My Lords, I thank the Minister for her reply, but is she aware that many able-bodied people have been noted driving cars with these stickers at the back? This includes one who quite recently visited a house and nipped up on to the roof to do some repairing, thus not appearing to he very disabled.

Baroness STEDMAN

My Lords, from time to time we all hear of people who are not disabled driving cars with badges for the disabled. I deplore that because, when we have a scheme like this, we have to rely on the honesty and integrity of other people driving the car in question. It says quite plainly on the back of the disc when it is issued that the badge is for the use of the holder only; that it does not in itself confer any legal right to wait in places where waiting is restricted and that it should be displayed on the vehicle only while it is being used by the holder. One would hope that other people who are driving a car carrying such a badge would observe the ordinary traffic rules and regulations of the road and not take unfair advantage of facilities that are provided for the disabled.


My Lords, is the noble Baroness aware, despite what she has said, that there is widespread abuse of this system and that this is recognised by a great many people? Also, will she say who is entitled to display one of these disabled signs and whether thought is being given to whether it should be an offence to display one if one is not, as a driver, oneself disabled or carrying a disabled person?

Baroness STEDMAN

My Lords, I would not, without further evidence, accept that there is widespread use of these badges by people who are not entitled to use them. Those classes of people entitled to use a badge are detailed in the regulations. They are fairly lengthy and, if the noble Lord will allow me to do so, I shall see that there is a copy in the Library or shall let him have the details. There would be rather a lot to read out. If people are found making use of a badge to which they are not entitled, they are liable to prosecution for parking offences. However, if your Lordships know of any such cases, the people to contact are the local authorities. It is they who issue the badges. They know the persons to whom the badges are issued and, if your Lordships think that badges are being used unfairly or illegally, you should take it up with your local authority, whose responsibility it is to issue the badge and to see that the regulations are complied with.


My Lords, is the noble Baroness also aware that many people put CD plates on their car who are not entitled to do so? I apologise for raising this point; I know that it is rather outside the Question, but I thought that I would make the point.


My Lords, may I ask the Minister whether she is aware that, if one travels on any of the major roads in this country, one sees that the number of cars with the disabled disc is growing enormously? Also, is the noble Baroness aware that it is very easy to give a disc to a friend who is not disabled in any way? Also, I gather that disability covers fields such as heart and lung conditions. I wonder whether the noble Baroness is aware that one can give away a disc and then apply to the local authority which will issue another? It is easy to say that one has lost the first disc. Can the noble Baroness also say whether it is stated on the back of the disc that the disc is not transferable?

Baroness STEDMAN

To take the last point first, my Lords, no, it does not say so. However, it says that misuse can lead to withdrawal of the badge. So far as the number of badges issued is concerned, I understand that a count which was taken last year showed that 200,000 badges had been issued to disabled people who complied with the disabilities laid down in the regulations. I hope that the practice to which the noble Baroness, Lady Macleod, has referred—that is, the practice of people handing on badges and then applying for another for themselves— is not prevalent. I hope the British public are not the sort of people who would do that kind of thing.


My Lords, may I ask my noble friend whether these badges are numbered?

Baroness STEDMAN

Yes, my Lords.