Written Answers. - Disabled Driver's Scheme.

Michael Bell

Question:

17 Mr. Bell asked the Minister for Finance if he will consider granting tax concessions on vehicles to individuals with cystic fibrosis; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that cystic fibrosis adult sufferers have less than 30 per cent normal lung function which substantially reduces mobility; if he, in view of the fact that transport is essential to cystic fibrosis sufferers and that they only have social welfare income, he will further agree that this benefit, if granted, would be of substantial help to cystic fibrosis sufferers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17752/95]

The disabled drivers and passengers scheme provides a range of tax related benefits for the purchase and operation of vehicles for qualifying individual disabled drivers and passengers and for organisations catering for the disabled whose members qualify under the scheme.

An extensive and wide ranging review of the operation of the disabled drivers scheme was completed in 1994. This involved consultation with relevant Government Departments, the Disabled Drivers Medical Board of Appeal, the Revenue Commissioners, the health boards and relevant organisations catering for the disabled. The Finance spokespersons of each political party were also consulted.

The issue of the medical criteria for qualification was looked at in considerable detail in the course of the review, bearing in mind the various representations which had been received seeking the extension of the benefits of the scheme to other medical categories, including to cystic fibrosis sufferers. The review recommended that the existing specific medical criteria should remain broadly unchanged.

The current medical criteria for qualification for the scheme are set out in the Disabled Drivers and Passengers (Tax Concessions) Regulations, 1994. The medical criteria are designed so that people who qualify for the scheme do so irrespective of the original cause of their disability. A move to listing particular disabilities in themselves such as cystic fibrosis, as automatically included in the scheme would change the nature of the scheme from one based on disability in itself which gives rise to severe mobility problems, to one giving reliefs in respect of particular medical conditions regardless of the degree of medical impairment.
I understand the Deputy's concern in this matter with particular regard to cystic fibrosis. I have asked my officials to undertake a detailed examination of the issue and to report back to me early in the New Year.