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 Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth , Hendon South 12:00 am, 9th December 1949

I quite agree with the hon. Member. In fact, he and I are members of the Estimates Committee and are very well acquainted with the Report in question. I conceded that point in my opening remarks.

The real reason for the introduction of this proposed new Clause is the announcement which was made by the Prime Minister on 24th October last. He said: The total of these items still falls well short of what we consider necessary. We therefore intend to take certain further measures. We propose to make a charge of not more than 1s. for each prescription under the National Health Service. The purpose is to reduce excessive and, in some cases, unnecessary resort to doctors and chemists, of which there is evidence which has for some time troubled my right hon. Friends the Minister of Health and the Secretary of State for Scotland The resultant saving will contribute about £10 million, although this is not the primary purpose of the charge. Arrangements will be made to relieve old age pensioners of this charge for prescriptions."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th October, 1949; Vol. 468, c. 1021.] If I read those words in the way I think they were read by everyone who heard them in this House and read them in the country, the effect is that the actual saving intended is to be £10 million or thereabouts, and that is after taking into account the amount lost through the proposed exemptions. If those words do not mean that, I can only say that they were dishonest words intended to mislead this House; and I do not believe they were.