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 Henry Strauss Mr Henry Strauss , Combined English Universities 12:00 am, 9th December 1949

There can be nobody, in any section of the House, who is quite happy about the Amendment with which we have to deal. I do not propose to say much about the general proposition put forward by the hon. Member for Northern Dorset (Mr. Byers). I agree with him generally, and I know that many hon. Members in all parts of the House agree, about the disadvantage of dealing with some of these vital matters by regulation, but that subject is more germane to the general provisions of the principal Act and I do not think we can very usefully discuss it at any length this morning.

Let me say at once that, though I have differed on most political questions from the hon. Member for Barking (Mr. Hastings), when he talks on a subject on which he speaks with experience—as he does in this case—I always listen to him, as I do to many of his medical colleagues, with the greatest attention and respect. I did so in Committee when the principal Act was going through. Perhaps it is not inappropriate that I should make a few remarks today because I number a great many medical men among my constituents.

The most questionable and astounding thing which the Minister said in his speech was his statement that this was a tentative proposal. I cannot imagine why he says this is a tentative proposal. Quotations have already been made from the speeches made by the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer when this matter was first mentioned. In those speeches it was announced as a matter of Cabinet decision and Cabinet policy; the matter is by no means tentative.