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Invalid Vehicles

Volume 885: debated on Tuesday 28 January 1975

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18.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she is satisfied with the present standard of invalid tricycles; and if she will make a statement on their use value.

Invalid tricycles provide independent mobility for as wide a range of disabled drivers as possible; this is their purpose. My hon. Friend will, however, be pleased to know that, wherever necessary or appropriate, modifications to improve the vehicle have been undertaken, and that this process will continue.

Does my hon. Friend agree that there is much concern about the standard of the vehicles and their initial construction? Is he aware that many people, including users, those who are sympathetic, and hon. Members, believe that there is only one way in which to proceed, namely, to scrap the vehicle in favour of a rapid and progressive policy either of providing much better vehicles or of adapting existing vehicles? Does he agree that following the researches of his own Department the vehicles have been deemed by many to be hazardous on the roads?

We have published the MIRA Report. It is available in the Library. I am actively studying the accident reports to see what can be done to minimise the number of accidents. Our basic decision was for cash and not cars, so as to give disabled people, including those who are too disabled to drive, some freedom of choice.

There seems to be a curious contrast between the Minister's performance now and what he said on this matter before the election. Until the day comes when we have a Government who feel that they can be more generous, would it not make sense to commission a series of studies on four-wheeled vehicles, including the Daf as well as the Mini, so that we can find out what may provide a better and safer means of transport?

We are being five times more generous than we were asked to be by Lady Sharp. We are about to double expendiutre on the inability of disabled people. That entirely defeats the hon. Gentleman's point. We have published the MIRA Report. In Opposition I pressed again and again for the publica- tion of that report. I am glad that that Report and the Sharp Report were published quickly after we took office.