§ Mr. John Ellis
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he has completed the review of the policy of withdrawing three-wheelers from people of pensionable age who received them since 1976; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. John Evans
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he has now completed the review of the policy of withdrawing invalid three-wheeled vehicles (trikes) from disabled people of pensionable age who have received them since 1976; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Alfred Morris
All disabled people who since January 1976 have been loaned invalid three-wheelers by my Department have received them on condition that they would be surrendered at pensionable age. The Government's intention, in continuing to issue the three-336W wheeler after the mobility allowance had been introduced as an alternative to the vehicle, was to be as helpful as possible to out-of-phase applicants for the allowance. But it is argued that the condition has caused hardship. Several hon. Members have raised the matter with me. After careful consideration, I have now decided that the practice of withdrawing three-wheelers at pensionable age will cease forthwith. Where vehicles have already been withdrawn, the people concerned will be offered replacements if they want them and if they still satisfy the conditions of supply.
My Department will continue to maintain and, where necessary, replace vehicles supplied to new applicants since 1st January 1976, as long as it is practicable to do so. As the House knows, we are planning to keep the three-wheeler fleet on the road until 1982 or 1983. But unlike beneficiaries of the pre-1976 vehicle scheme, people who received vehicles on a temporary basis after 1st January 1976, will not have reserved rights to further help when their vehicles can no longer be replaced.
The decision we announced in July 1976, was to phase out the three-wheeler. It has not been supplied generally to new applicants for nearly two years. The special arrangement for supplying vehicles to out-of-phase applicants for the mobility allowance was a temporary one pending the extension of the allowance to all eligible age groups. Under the terms of a further commencement order laid before the House earlier this year, people aged up to 58 will be able to apply for the mobility allowance in September; and we expect the allowance to be fully phased-in during next year. As a corollary to the change of policy I have outlined above, three-wheelers will no longer be supplied to new applicants whose applications are received after 4th July 1978.
This is the logical next step of our policy and it will enable us both to husband our existing stocks of the vehicle and maintain provision for as long as possible to those who already use it.
My right hon. Friends the Secretary of State for Scotland and Northern Ireland and my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Wales will be making similar arrangements.