Clause 7. — (Removal of Hardships.)

Part of Orders of the Day — National Health Service (Amendment) Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 9th December 1949.

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Photo of Mr Walter Elliot Mr Walter Elliot , Combined Scottish Universities 12:00 am, 9th December 1949

This, of course, is an Amendment of more substance, but we ought to be able to dispose of it in a relatively short time, because, as the Minister has said on a previous Amendment, it is merely giving him power to lay regulations. These eventually will be laid, and on that occasion the House will have an opportunity of considering the actual proposal instead of, as now, merely the principle involved. We would not, of course, oppose this Amendment. We did not divide against the Bill on Second Reading and we do not propose to divide against this and the succeeding Amendment, which in our view give the necessary latitude to the Minister.

At the same time, it would not be desirable to pass without a certain amount of comment, the proposal which is now being made. It is a proposal which admittedly will place some 19 million people in a worse position than they have been in since July, 1948, and a considerable number of people in a worse position than they have been in since 1912, when the new schemes allowed insured persons to obtain their prescriptions without this charge.

The Amendment is, as the Parliamentary Secretary has said, in accordance with the declaration of the Prime Minister, which intimated that some £13 million, I think, would be obtained by this charge.