§ Mr. Carter-Jones
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) if the vehicle in page 48 of his Department's Handbook of Wheelchairs and Hand Propelled Tricycles represents what his Department considers to be the best in British engineering and technology; when this type of vehicle was first produced; what modifications have been carried out and on what dates; and if he will make a statement;
(2) if model 11 on page 48 of his Department's Handbook of Wheelchairs and Hand Propelled Tricycles is considered by his Department to be the best available for British hospitals and associated institutions; if there are models he prefers produced in the United Kingdom or overseas; if he will make such models available for the British public who need them; and if he will make a statement;
(3) in view of the effort required to handle patients in Model 11 on page 48 of his Department's Handbook of Wheelchairs and Hand Propelled Tricycles, if he will consider inviting applications from university or other engineering departments to produce a design incorporating the best in British technology with better characteristics for medical staff, patients' relatives and patients' themselves; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Alison
A coach-built alternative to the model 11 available for those who prefer it. Many users, however, prefer the wickerwork construction despite its dated appearance because of the lightness and coolness it provides. If the hon. Member is aware of alternatives providing the desired characteristics I will gladly have them examined, but I would not consider it a proper use of resources to investigate the replacement of a carriage of this kind, which is required in only very small numbers, unless there were functional as distinct from fashion objections to the present model. The components—wheels, chassis, upholstery 217W and push handles—have all been improved over the years and the design will continue to he reviewed from time to time.