Disabled Drivers (Sharp Report)

Oral Answers to Questions — Social Services – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 22nd January 1974.

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Photo of Mr Neil Marten Mr Neil Marten , Banbury 12:00 am, 22nd January 1974

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make a statement on the Sharp report on disabled drivers.

Photo of Mr Michael Alison Mr Michael Alison , Barkston Ash

I have nothing at present to add to the reply my right hon. Friend gave to the hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Alfred Morris) on 2nd November 1973.—[Vol. 863, c. 31–2.]

Photo of Mr Neil Marten Mr Neil Marten , Banbury

Is not this getting rather absurd? Is my hon. Friend aware that this report was originally due or hoped for almost a year ago, and that it was finally delivered to the Ministry some time in October, when we were told that there was a delay over printing? Now it is still delayed. Cannot my hon. Friend get on with this and give us a date for its publication?

Photo of Mr Michael Alison Mr Michael Alison , Barkston Ash

I cannot give a specific date, but in view of the very point that he made about the length of time taken by Lady Sharp to deliver her report, my hon. Friend will appreciate the complexity of the subject that she dealt with and the need to consider it deeply as to its implications within the Department before publication.

Photo of Mr Alf Morris Mr Alf Morris , Manchester Wythenshawe

Although we accept that Ministers require time carefully to read the report, is the hon. Gentleman aware that disabled drivers and disabled passengers also want to study its recommendations? Is the hon. Gentleman aware, further, of the deeply disturbing accident figures involving his Ministry's three-wheelers? Does he recall that Lady Sharp's report was with the Secretary of State on 5th October last? Why cannot he publish the report forthwith?

Photo of Mr Michael Alison Mr Michael Alison , Barkston Ash

I am bound to reply to the hon. Gentleman as I did to my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten). It is a complex report and it needs careful consideration within the Department. When it is published, the disabled drivers' groups as well as right hon. and hon. Members will have ample opportunity to discuss it in consultation with the Department.

Photo of Mr Lewis Carter-Jones Mr Lewis Carter-Jones , Eccles

In view of the fact that this is a complicated subject, would it not be better to publish the report and have the benefit of feed-back from disabled drivers themselves? Secondly, why is there no consultation with technologists up and down the country who can produce or modify vehicles so as to enable very severely handicapped people to have vehicles which they cannot have now? Thirdly, is the hon. Gentleman aware that many of us are concerned that the very severely handicapped who are not mobile are apparently not covered by the report? Will the hon. Gentleman consider providing vehicles for people who are so severely handicapped that they cannot drive themselves?

Photo of Mr Michael Alison Mr Michael Alison , Barkston Ash

On that last point, the hon. Gentleman will want to consider the report when it is published. As I have said already, there will be ample opportunity for disabled groups to consider the report, in consultation with the Department, when it is published, but I believe that it will be to the advantage of the House if the Government have been able to give full consideration to its implications and proposals before presenting it to the House in order to be able to give definitive answers as to future policy.