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Disabled Persons (Petrol Costs)

Volume 887: debated on Tuesday 25 February 1975

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15.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what evidence she has of cases where disabled people are unable to continue in employment as they are unable to afford the petrol to get to and from work.

I have no details of any case in which this has happened, although several people have written expressing concern about the possibility. If the hon. Member is aware of any such case, I hope that he will let me know.

Is the Minister aware of the special difficulty that faces disabled people who go to work in an Invacar in that they cannot engage in car-sharing schemes or in the pooling of journeys which their more able-bodied workmates can do? Does not this place those people at a disadvantage compared with workmates, and will the hon. Gentleman look into this special point?

Yes, I am very aware of the general concern about ways in which disabled people are affected by the recent increase in petrol prices. I shall bear the point very much in mind.

Will my hon. Friend give more serious thought to the suggestion which has been made to him and bear in mind that it is particularly hard for disabled people to meet the increased petrol cost? Will he also bear in mind that any increase in road tax will have an equally bad effect on disabled people who have to use larger cars than normal because they cannot drive smaller vehicles? Therefore, it will be a greater hardship for them to be able to go from A to B, to work or, indeed, to anywhere else.

I know of my hon. Friend's very close personal interest in these problems. I shall bear in mind all he has said. I am sure he will be pleased as I certainly was, that we were at least able to restore, and indeed double, the petrol allowance which was cancelled in the February 1972 announcement.

Will the Minister accept that the standard car for the disabled driver is wholly unsuitable for long-distance journeys to work or outings? Is he aware that one of my constituents has given me figures suggesting that it is more expensive for him and for the taxpayer if he uses that type of car than, say, a standard mini car?

I am familiar with this type of criticism. If the hon. Gentleman likes to contact me about the particular case, I shall be glad to look into it again with him.