Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that delays of as much as 14 months are taking place; and is he satisfied that a really concerted and intelligent effort, using the mechanical genius of this country, is being made to tackle this very difficult problem?
The mechanical genius available in this country has been used to tackle this problem for the first time in English history. We have already issued between 80,000 and 90,000 aural aids. The limitation is not the mechanical genius of the country, because we are producing them from the industry faster than we have the technicians to enable them to be given to patients.
While appreciating what has been done, may I ask my right hon. Friend whether he is aware that only 20 cases a week are allowed to go forward from the whole of the area covered by Blackburn, Accrington and Burnley? Does he think that this is satisfactory?
Can the right hon. Gentleman hold out any hope at all to these old people, many of whom have worked for very many years in industry, that there will soon be shorter periods than two years for them to wait?
I am delighted to note the sense of urgency on the other side of the House on this matter, although it is very belated. It is obvious that at the moment the older ones will have to wait for those who need aural aids in their occupations; that is the reason why the older ones are being subjected to delay.