HC Deb 17 October 1945 vol 414 cc1198-9W
Mr. Skeffington

asked the Minister of Pensions whether, in view of the excess profits being made on artificial limbs, he will consult with the President of the Board of Trade as to the advisability of bringing these appliances within the field of price-regulated goods.

Mr. Wilfred Paling

Artificial limbs for all classes of persons dealt with through my Ministry's organisation are supplied under contract. These classes include disabled ex-Service personnel for whom I am directly responsible, and civilian and mercantile marine war injury cases and other classes in respect of whom other Government Departments or Governments have accepted financial responsibility under provisions administered by them. In addition, certain other classes of the community are supplied with artificial limbs, on a contributory basis, through the organisations of my Ministry and the Governors of Queen Mary's (Roehampton) Hospital, e.g., certain civilians whose in- juries are the result of industrial or other accidents, or disease, and who may be supplied with limbs under the Rehabilitation Scheme of the Ministry of Labour and National Service, and children who are supplied under schemes sponsored by the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education. In these cases, by agreement with the Governors of Queen Mary's (Roe-hampton) Hospital, the price paid is the same as provided for in the contract with my Department. This service is also available, through the organisation of the Governors of Queen Mary's (Roehampton) Hospital, to employees of certain railway companies, miners, etc., and cases referred by other public bodies, e.g., the London County Council, as well as to a large number of the public under the arrangement announced by one of my predecessors in the House on 27th July, 1936. I am satisfied that the arrangements for the classes mentioned are reasonable and do not permit an excessive profit to accrue to the contractors. Other demands on this industry are not large, as indicated in the Report of the Departmental Committee on Artificial Limbs published on 21st June, 1945. An artificial limb is necessarily made and fitted to an individual's special requirements according to the site of amputation, and its production and maintenance services do not lend themselves to control after the manner of a standardised or mass-produced article. In these circumstances I can find no grounds, in the field for which I am responsible, for the action suggested by the hon. Member.