Injured Tory MP gets life lesson on disability

AN MP who was seriously injured in a skiing accident had to borrow an electric wheelchair from a colleague’s aunt because the expenses watchdog would not grant him one.

Conservative Graham Stuart sustained a collapsed lung, five broken ribs and a “smashed up” pelvis in a freak accident during a skiing weekend in Chamonix in the French Alps in March.

After undergoing major surgery to insert plates into his hip, his doctor wrote a note that Mr Stuart passed to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) to say he “probably needs an electric wheelchair” to work.

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The MP for Beverley and Holderness said Ipsa denied his request for the wheelchair because the doctor only said he “probably” needed it.

However his Tory colleague Adam Holloway MP was on hand to lend him his aunt’s electric wheelchair.

Mr Stuart said: “Ipsa, the authority who deal with us, when I sent them a note from my doctor which described the condition and said ‘he probably needs an electric wheelchair’, promptly wrote back to say ‘well your doctor’s letter only says you probably need one so you can’t have one’.

“They did write and say, well if you write to us and tell us how utterly impossible it would be for you, and I thought, well anyone with the smallest understanding of the sheer size of the Palace of Westminster would understand.

“It’s quite hard to understand how anyone could get about if they didn’t have something like that.”

Mr Stuart said it was “interesting to note” how easy it was for Ipsa to deny him a wheelchair and said it would “cause concern” if the same mindset applied to disabled people seeking benefits.

“There are a lot of my constituents who are reliant on disability benefits and concerned about the way (disability assessment service) Atos approaches it (assessing people’s claims).

“I haven’t had to go through an assessment myself so I can’t speak but it’s interesting to note how easy it is for a bureaucratic institution to say that if you only ‘probably’ need an electric wheelchair then you can’t have one.”