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 Arthur Blenkinsop Mr Arthur Blenkinsop , Newcastle upon Tyne East 12:00 am, 9th December 1949

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

This Amendment carries out the undertaking given on the Report stage of the discussions on this Bill, in that it gives power to my right hon. Friend to make regulations for the making and recovery of charges for any use which may be made of the National Health Service by persons not ordinarily resident in Great Britain. I should make it quite clear that my right hon. Friend, as he mentioned at the time when this was considered on the Report stage, has no intention of any general and wholesale exclusion of foreign visitors from the benefits of the scheme in any regulations that he might lay before the House. Rather he would seek to try to secure the ending of any abuses by any persons who might conceivably come to this country especially and entirely for the purpose of securing free treatment of one kind or anpther. But we have always made it clear that in fact there is very little evidence of abuses of this sort, and that the statements about it which have been given a good deal of publicity, when we have examined them, have had very little basis at all.

Subsection (1) of this Clause provides that regulations made under the Clause shall specify to what services the charges will apply and what the charges are to be. The regulations also will lay down to what class of persons not ordinarily resident in Great Britain the charges will apply. Again we do not want this necessarily to apply to everyone. Owing to the difficulties which undoubtedly will be met in framing the regulations, and so that they will not prove too rigid in their application, it is provided that the charges shall be made only in cases where the Minister so determines.

With those provisos we seek power to make regulations that will check any abuses there may be, but at the same time we are most anxious to avoid regulations which will cause a great deal of concern and difficulty throughout the Service, both to those normally resident and those who we feel have the natural rights of hospitality and reasonable treatment and service should they fall ill when they come to this country.