asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what categories of people are eligible for mobility allowance on special terms.
Mobility allowance on special terms is available to beneficiaries of the former NHS vehicle scheme who have (or, in certain cases, used to have) a car or a tricycle or a private car allowance under that scheme. The special terms enable those eligible to switch to mobility allowance, generally without further medical examination, and without age limit. This concession was made because of the decision to phase-out tricycles. It has never been intended that those whose only form of mobility help under the NHS is a wheelchair should be covered by special terms for mobility allowance, since the mobility allowance scheme does not affect the continued issue of wheelchairs.Departmental publicity has made clear throughout the categories which the special scheme was designed to cover; and a number of applications to be certified as eligible vehicle scheme beneficiaries under the special scheme have been rejected from people with only a wheelchair. From 26th May, when the Mobility Allowance (Vehicle Scheme Beneficiaries) Amendment Regulations 1978
(S.I. 1978, No. 743) took effect, such rejections have undoubtedly been correct; and, even before then, the retention of a vehicle on the strength of which a certificate was issued, was itself a bar to receipt of mobility allowance. However, in the case of something over 100 applications from wheelchair users made between November 1977 and 26th May 1978, the unintended effect of the regulations then in force was that certificates should have been issued. The applications were, however, rejected on the then current understanding of the law; this interpretation was in accordance with the Government's intentions and consistent with the Government's statement on 29th July 1976, during the Adjournment debate, and on 27th July 1977 in my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ashley). The Government consider it right to validate the action taken in respect of these cases and to seek to introduce legislation to achieve this as soon as possible.—[Vol. 916, c. 1034; Vol. 936, c.