The Minister today seeks to justify the Lords Amendment on the ground that there has been abuse. In fact, on 24th November he was asked a Question in reply to which he said:
There is evidence of unnecessary resort to doctors and chemists which the proposed charge is intended to reduce."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 24th November, 1949; Vol. 470, c. 505.]
I therefore asked him a Question yesterday, which was answered in writing:
whether he will publish evidence in his possession disclosing unnecessary resorting to doctors and chemists.
The Parliamentary Secretary answered:
No."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th December, 1949; Vol. 470, c. 174.]
It would be very useful if the House could have such evidence in some form or other, for the Minister is basing the main case precisely on this point. In fact, he has attempted, as the hon. and learned Member for North Hammersmith (Mr. Pritt) has shown, to dissociate himself from the origin of the statement which gave rise to the Amendment—namely, that made by the Prime Minister on 24th October, which was directly in relation to the proposed economy cuts, and the similar statement which followed from the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Therefore, if the Minister is attempting to dissociate himself in that respect, ought not the House to have evidence?
We have this morning heard several medical Members of the House, one of whom, as many of us know, is in actual practice as a general practitioner; he practises in a working-class area in Shore-ditch and, I believe, has another practice also. The hon. Member said that he has no evidence of this abuse. Another hon. Gentleman who spoke is a man with very long experience in the medical profession and one whom we all respect. He, similarly, made the very important statement that all the doctors he has questioned on this matter—he holds a position in the Socialist Medical Association—