HC Deb 01 April 1981 vol 2 cc107-8W
Mr. Field

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether, when a severely handicapped child is assessed as appropriate for the supply of a communication system of the type supplied under central contract, but has a clear need for a portable system through frequent changes of abode, for example, frequent hospitalisation, his Department would supply alternative or supplementary portable equipment of the types now available in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Rossi

No: but the existing centrally funded equipment can be transported with a patient on a change of abode—for example, for hospitalisation.

Mr. Field

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will list all the directives and guidance issued by the European Commission that relate to public procurement of equipment that might relate to the purchase of communication aids for handicapped people.

Mr. Rossi

The following directives concern public procurement of goods. These could apply to communication aids for handicapped people procured by public authorities.

1. Directive 70/32, which applies the principle of free competition to public contracts.

2. Directive 77/62, which co-ordinates procedures for the award of public contracts.

3. Directive 80/767, which brings procedures under directive 77/62 generally into line with those of the general agreement on tariffs and trade (GATT) agreement on public procurement. This agreement, which also applies to the EEC, lays down anti-discriminatory procedures applying to Government procurement in GATT signatory countries.

In February a proposal for a directive relating to free movement of electro-medical equipment within member States, was placed before the Permanent Representatives Committee. The annex to this proposal names a number of types of electro-medical equipment including "aids for the paralysed" and "artificial speech equipment". The proposed directive is based on optional harmonisation, that is that member States can accept equipment made to whatever standards they wish provided there are no barriers to trade for equipment complying with International Standard IEC 601–1.

In addition to these measures—Council regulations (EEC) 1028/79 and 2783/79 provide for the importation, free of common custom tariff duties, of articles specially designed for the education, employment and social advancement of handicapped persons. These regulations apply when the equipment is intended for institutions or organisations that are principally engaged in the education of or the provision of assistance to handicapped people.