asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what types and makes of wheelchair are issued by her Department; in what year each was introduced; what plans she has to supply more modern wheelchairs; if she will authorize the immediate supply of the Easiglide Hand where appropriate; and if she will make a statement.
:All the types of wheelchairs included in the Department's standard range are shown in the Handbook of Wheelchairs, a copy of which I have placed in the Library. They are distinguished from one another by specification not by make, which will depend upon competitive tendering in accordance with usual Government contracting principles. Specifications are updated frequently as necessary.In general, the chairs reflect current design principles and engineering practice and the question of modernisation does not arise. In a few instances, such as the spinal carriage, older materials and production methods are retained because of the functional superiority of the end product. Where a need cannot be met by a chair in the Department's standard range another chair may be provided, and chairs in the Easiglide range are exceptionally provided under this arrangement.