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 Philip Piratin Mr Philip Piratin , Stepney Mile End 12:00 am, 9th December 1949

I have read that report. Anyone who reads it must ask this question: Who is giving the evidence? If the doctor gives the evidence, he is casting a slur on himself. The patient cannot give the evidence, for either the patient seriously believes that he needs the medicament or he is abusing and certainly will not give evidence to that effect. Even in those cases, as the hon. Member for Barking (Mr. Hastings) said, he is more likely than not to be a neurotic and does not even know that he is abusing in that sense. Therefore, from whom are we to get this evidence? In fact, there is no evidence which any court or any inquiry could really accept.

What the Minister must admit is that, granted there would be cases of abuse—as the hon. Member for Barking said, this is likely—he is making the innocent suffer for the guilty. No exemptions which he can possibly introduce and which he mentioned in his speech can be such that the innocent do not pay for the guilty. The Minister can only exempt certain categories either of obvious serious illness or of certain classes towards which there is special sympathy, such as the old folk, ex-Service men and so on. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say that recently there has been evidence to show that there has been less demand as a result of the announcement. That may be so, but he is not suggesting that this lesser demand arises from the fact that the abusers are no longer abusing; it may be that the lesser demand arises because of the kinds of cases referred to by the hon. Members for South-East St. Pancras (Dr. Jeger) and Barking, who speak with experience—namely, that people who require to go to doctors are refraining from doing so and that, therefore, this is merely leading up to much more serious illness later.

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