Oral Answers to Questions — Medicine Stamp Duties.

– in the House of Commons on 13th June 1939.

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Photo of Sir Edward Keeling Sir Edward Keeling , Twickenham

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, before deciding to propose the repeal of the medicine stamp duties he took any medical advice as to the effect on the public health?

Photo of Mr John Simon Mr John Simon , Spen Valley

Before deciding to propose the repeal of the medicine stamp duties, I had the advantage of having before me the evidence given by the British Medical Association to the Select Committee of which my hon. Friend was a member. I would further refer my hon. Friend to the reply given on behalf of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health to my hon. Friend the Member for Abingdon (Sir R. Glyn) on the 23rd May.

Photo of Mr Frederick Macquisten Mr Frederick Macquisten , Argyll

Would it not be possible to ascertain from these medical gentlemen whether far too much medicine is not being taken by people in this country; and would it not be better if taxation were placed, not only on patent medicines, but on all medicines, and taken off good Scotch whisky?

Photo of Mr Ian Hannah Mr Ian Hannah , Wolverhampton Bilston

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he proposes to take to prevent the proposed abolition of Medicine Stamp Duties leaving it open for drugs to be indiscriminately distributed by people with no knowledge of the contents and character of the goods they are handling, or even to be sold in slot machines?

Photo of Mr John Simon Mr John Simon , Spen Valley

I would refer to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health on 8th June to a question asked by the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Garro Jones) with regard to the control of the sale of drugs by persons other than qualified chemists.

Mr. Davidson:

As that answer did not refer to any future proposal, may I ask whether any steps are now being taken to prevent the postal service of this country from being used by outside sellers to break regulations which we impose on sellers in this country?

Photo of Sir William Davison Sir William Davison , Kensington South

Is not legislation desirable to provide that the prescription of what the medicine contains is clearly stated on the bottle, so that the public may know what they are taking?

Photo of Mr Ian Hannah Mr Ian Hannah , Wolverhampton Bilston

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he proposes to allay the grave apprehension among pharmacists at the proposed repeal of the Medicine Stamp Duties as depriving them of an ancient right to be the only retailers of their own preparations unstamped, with a due sense of responsibility?

Photo of Mr John Simon Mr John Simon , Spen Valley

I do not consider that the repeal of the Medicine Stamp Duties need have the effect which my hon. Friend fears. It will be open to pharmacists who are at present the only retailers of their own preparations un stamped to continue this practice if they desire to restrict the channels of sale in this way; but repeal of the duties will remove the anomaly by which at present the same preparation may be sold unstamped by chemists but must be stamped when sold by traders who are not chemists.

Sir Nairne Stewart Sandeman:

Who is scoring by the reduction of the tax?

Photo of Sir William Davison Sir William Davison , Kensington South

Is it not desirable, in order to safeguard the public, that these patent medicines should be sold by chemists who know the ingredients and who would not sell them if they were actually detrimental?

Photo of Mr John Simon Mr John Simon , Spen Valley

In some cases the chemist knows the ingredients, and in some cases he does not.

Photo of Mr Frederick Macquisten Mr Frederick Macquisten , Argyll

Why should traders who are not chemists be allowed to sell medicines? It is a monstrous proposal.

Photo of Mr Robert Morrison Mr Robert Morrison , Tottenham North

Did the shares of Beecham's Pills go up when the duty was repealed?