HC Deb 19 July 1977 vol 935 cc425-6W
30. Mr. Grist

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is his current estimate of the additional number of people who would now possess invalid tricycles if previous policies had been maintained.

Mr. Alfred Morris

I refer the hon. Member to my reply earlier today to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Stechford (Mr. MacKay).

43. Mr. Hooley

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many different designs of vehicle as alternatives to the invalid tricycle are currently being studied by his Department.

Mr. Alfred Morris

I refer my hon. Friend to the reply which I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mr. Corbett.) on 17th May. —[Vol. 932, c. 120.]

44. Mr. Knox

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he has yet decided what further research is desirable in order to find the best specialist vehicles for the disabled.

Mr. Alfred Morris

My Department's main immediate concern is to mount, in collaboration with the Department of Transport, a study of the currently available adaptations to standard motor cars and of the diverse needs of disabled drivers. To the extent to which available adaptations do not meet those needs, the study will also consider what additional facilities are desirable and feasible. At the same time, I shall do what I can to encourage well-founded research which can lead to the production of specialised vehicles, in so far as they are needed, for disabled people.

67. Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether it is the policy of his Department that a disabled man aged 61 years who is not yet entitled to receive a retirement pension should be allowed to retain his invalid carriage, but that a woman of the same age who is not yet entitled to receive a retirement pension on her husband's National Insurance record should have her invalid carriage taken away; and how he justifies this difference between the treatment of incapacitated women as opposed to men.

Mr. Alfred Morris

Mobility allowance is available under existing legislation up to pensionable age—that is, 65 for a man and 60 for a woman. The same limits apply when an invalid tricycle is issued to someone who satisfies the conditions for the allowance but is not yet within an eligible age group for claiming it.

Mobility allowance was introduced, and is being both extended to eligible age groups and uprated, at the cost of trebling my Department's expenditure on mobility for the disabled in circumstances of severe economic constraint. The upper age limits were necessary to contain the cost within this substantial increase. A common upper age limit of 65 would cost about £9 million extra; abolishing the upper age limit altogether would cost about £182 million a year.

I am having the particular case which concerns the hon. Gentleman reconsidered, in the light of his recent personal approach to me, and will be in further touch with him after this as soon as possible.