I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in. the said Amendment."
The Lords Amendment is designed to give the necessary statutory authority for the proposal announced by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to make a charge for prescriptions under the National Health Service. The proposed new Clause is drafted widely because the exact nature of the arrangements has not yet been settled; discussions are proceeding.
It has, of course, already been announced that the charge will not exceed one shilling and that old age pensioners will be relieved of the charge, as will ex-Service men who are war pensioners, who will continue to receive free treatment for their war disabilities. Beyond that, I cannot say further than that we have under consideration the many representations which have been made by Members of the House and others as to the detailed working of the scheme, which is under consideration.
In another place the suggestion was made that there has been over-prescribing by doctors. On that point I should say that already there is a joint committee of the Central and Scottish Health Services councils to advise whether it is desirable and practicable to restrict in any way the prescribing by doctors of medicines of doubtful value and of unnecessarily expensive brands of standard drugs. We shall not, of course, be in a position to make any statement about this until any recommendations have been made.