HC Deb 03 July 1989 vol 156 cc26-8W
Mr. Michael Marshall

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations he has received following the three year review of the orange badge scheme for disabled car parking; and what consideration he is currently giving to the problems affecting 430 thalidomide victims arising from the outcome of that review and, in particular, for those with shortened arms such as Mrs. Alison Wright of Bognor Regis.

Mr. Peter Bottomley

We received nearly 700 comments on the discussion paper which we issued in August 1986 setting out possible changes to the orange badge scheme. The results of the review were announced in answer to a question from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Morris) on 25 April 1989, at columns481–83.

A number of people have understood limited press reports to mean that badges will in future be restricted to recipients of mobility allowance. We do not want to restrict eligibility to this extent. Nor do we seek to ration badges or set targets for their availability.

We have received many letters and telephone calls supporting our proposals for tackling abuse of the scheme. The idea of redesigning the badge with space for a photograph of the holder has been particularly welcomed by people with disabilities and their representative organisations.

Public concern has recently been expressed about not extending eligibility for badges to all thalidomide victims with upper limb disabilities.

We have accepted advice and representations from the statutory disabled persons transport advisory committee (DPTAC) that badges must continue to be restricted to people with permanent and severe mobility problems.

The committee's constituent organisations include the joint committee on mobility for the disabled, the Disabled Drivers Association, the Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation and the Disabled Drivers Motor Club. The majority of DPTAC's members are people with disabilities.

We are taking further medical advice on the mobility problems specific to some thalidomide people.

Officials have met with the Thalidomide Trust and are in touch with the Thalidomide Society.

We hope to make an announcement shortly on the outcome of this further consultation as it effects the eligibility of thalidomide victims in relation to the mobility criteria of the scheme.

The greatest concern must be to protect the interests of those people who cannot move without the benefit of the national scheme and to avoid the growth and extension of local schemes conferring benefits only to local people.

If the national scheme further loses its value and validity, the most severely disabled will suffer badly.

Sir John Farr

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he will consider introducing a two-tier system in the future for disabled persons, consisting of a red badge for less serious cases of disability, together with an orange badge for priority, as at present.

Mr. Peter Bottomley

[holding answer 30 June 1989]: No. For the scheme to be workable it is essential that only one class of badge is issued, and is restricted to those people with the greatest mobility problems. This approach has been strongly supported by organisations representing people with disabilities following our recent detailed review of the scheme.

It has been a basis of the scheme from its inception that the issue of badges should be restricted to those most in need of the parking concessions conferred by it. This approach was endorsed in the recent review of the scheme.

The main problem with the scheme is that badges are too easy to get, not too hard. Extending eligibility to those with less serious mobility handicaps (even if the full range of parking concessions were not provided) would increase considerably the number of badge holders. This would contribute to further traffic congestion in town centres. It would make enforcement of the scheme even more difficult.

Mr. Ashley

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations he has received regarding the need for orange badges by those who have deformed arms or none at all; and what reply he gave.

Mr. Peter Bottomley

The consultation paper on the orange badge scheme which we issued in August 1986 discussed the possibility of extending eligibility for badges to people with severe upper limb disabilities.

This was generally opposed by those commenting on the paper. In particular, the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC) argued strongly that badges should continue to be restricted to those with severe mobility problems. Most of the major organisations representing people with disabilities are members of DPTAC.

We have received several representations that badges should be issued to thalidomide victims without arms. We are taking further medical advice on whether there are any previously unknown mobility problems specific to thalidomide victims. We are in touch with the Thalidomide Trust and the Thalidomide Society.

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