asked the Minister of Health whether he will seek powers to make a grant equivalent to the value of a single-seater invalid car to a disabled National Health Service patient who is entitled to a single-seater invalid car but who wishes instead to buy a motor car with special controls so as to enable her to go out of the house with her children.
Can the hon. Gentleman say when that review, for which we have been waiting quite a long time, will be completed? As the Government have said that this whole matter is a question of the relative priority of money resources, does it not seem a little unfair that people who can afford, for example, to pay prescription charges should not do so, because if they did the money there from would provide many cars?
We really have not been a long time waiting for the review. We have got nicely through the additional provisions made by the previous Administration and we hope to get the review completed sometime this year. That is as far as I can go. As to prescription charges, the extent of the services which it is suggested could be provided by prescription charges, ranging from the TSR2 to almost everything else, is amazing.
On what grounds does the Minister resist the proposal for making a cash grant equivalent to the cost of a vehicle? It would not cost his Department a penny more than is being spent at present, and it would bring great happiness to a number of crippled mothers who can never go outdoors with their children.
The hon. Gentleman will appreciate that we want to examine the whole field. The question of making cash grants of this kind involves an enormous number of technical difficulties. In any event, we do not make cash grants. The question of ownership would also arise. I ask the hon. Member to examine the implications of the question.
The only assurance I want to give the House is that both my hon. Friend and I have the greatest possible sympathy with the category of patients for whom appeals have been made, and we will do our utmost to solve some of the problems.
I hope that the Minister appreciates that his Answer is very unsatisfactory to a great number of hon. Members. From his personal knowledge of the cases which come before his Ministry, does he not appreciate the great amount of hardship that is caused to families by this provision and that it would not cost the Ministry a penny more to introduce this proposal? Cannot the hon. Gentleman speed up his review to make this possible?
I cannot accept the hon. Member's statement that it would not cost a lot of money. It would cost some money. I assure the House that we are very sympathetic and are doing whatever we possibly can to resolve these problems.