I will, with permission, make a statement to the House on artificial limbs.
As I told the House on 22nd June, I have been holding discussions with representatives of the artificial limb industry regarding supplies of these articles for the disabled as a part of the National Health Service. I am now glad to say that satisfactory arrangements have been agreed between us which will enable every firm in the industry, which is able to produce a limb of high quality, to continue in production. These arrangements will be as follow:
May I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on his benevolent swan song, and may I, with indulgence, express the feelings of Members in all parts of the House in wishing him a fruitful career of public service in the course which he has chosen?
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman questions on two points, which I am sure are not fundamental to this scheme? In regard to the final approval, is it really necessary, where there is a surgeon in the National Health Service who has performed the amputation and has approved the type of limb, for the Ministry of Pensions to be brought in for final approval? Could not the National Health Service surgeon certify final approval? Is it really necessary for the person in that case to go to the pensions centre? The right hon. Gentleman referred to consultations between the two surgeons, and that may entail a good deal of difficulty for the National Health Service surgeon. Cannot the National Health Service surgeon enable the patient to be put into direct touch with the firm concerned?
These matters have been the subject of discussion, and I have gone into this scheme very thoroughly. I hope that this scheme will not go on without a review at a comparatively early period, but in the early stages I must insist on a limb fitting surgeon. These are men in the medical profession who are accepted as knowing their job extremely well. While I am on my feet, may I say to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), with whom I have been associated: "Thank you very much?"
The Ministry have a service at their disposal in connection with improvements to artificial limbs, and we spend a considerable amount of money and time on research. It is our purpose not only to make the results of this research available to the main Government contractors, but to make them available to every maker of artificial limbs.
While congratulating the right hon. Gentleman on this very fine gesture as a last act before he leaves the House, may I ask him to give further consideration to a closer contact between patients and individual firms in view of the record of individual firms in the manufacture of artificial limbs?
This scheme is a fair compromise, and I trust that Members will give it a chance to work. At the end of a reasonable period of time the matter can be reviewed again.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that the statement he has made will allay a good many doubts and will be received with general satisfaction, as most of his recent statements have been; and that if occasion does arise for him to leave the House, he will leave it with the gratitude and respect of ex-Service men everywhere and with the esteem of his colleagues in this House?
It is assumed that the person concerned will go back to the maker of the limb. We have come to an arrangement with the makers of these limbs that the Government will pay the proper costs of repair.
May I, with the indulgence of the House, ask the right hon. Gentleman to take away with him the good wishes of ex-Service men generally whom he has served very faithfully in this House.