Registration Numbers

Oral Answers to Questions — Ministry of Health – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 4th April 1955.

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Photo of Mr Henry Hynd Mr Henry Hynd , Accrington 12:00 am, 4th April 1955

asked the Minister of Health what procedure should be followed by men returning to civilian life after military service and by children born within the last five years, who have no national registration numbers, and by other people who have forgotten their national registration numbers, when they are asked to produce those numbers for National Health Service purposes.

Photo of Miss Patricia Hornsby-Smith Miss Patricia Hornsby-Smith , Chislehurst

Service men on release, and infants when birth is registered, are automatically issued with National Health Service numbers. People who have forgotten their National Health Service number should communicate with their local executive council.

Photo of Mr Henry Hynd Mr Henry Hynd , Accrington

I am not asking about National Health Service numbers. I am asking about the national registration numbers which are asked for when application is made for service under the National Health Scheme. Is it not ridiculous that people should still be asked for the national registration numbers, which most of them do not know? Does the hon. Lady know her own national registration number?

Photo of Miss Patricia Hornsby-Smith Miss Patricia Hornsby-Smith , Chislehurst

CMBR 53/1. I think the hon. Gentleman will recognise that no sizeable registration scheme with so many people bearing the same name could possibly be carried out without some method using numbers. In the case of the National Health Service, it was obviously the better solution to take the national registration numbers, which were available and were known to most people, who had borne them for 10 years, rather than institute an entirely new Health Service scheme.

Photo of Mr Henry Hynd Mr Henry Hynd , Accrington

As the hon. Lady shows by her reply to my supplementary question that she understood the Question, why should she have given an evasive reply?

Photo of Miss Patricia Hornsby-Smith Miss Patricia Hornsby-Smith , Chislehurst

Nonsense. The hon. Member has asked me about men returning to civilian life, and I have stated that on release they are told, and reminded in their discharge papers, what their Health Service number is.

Photo of Mr George Lindgren Mr George Lindgren , Wellingborough

Will the hon. Lady say what will happen to the people who took Tory advice to destroy their national registration cards?

Photo of Miss Patricia Hornsby-Smith Miss Patricia Hornsby-Smith , Chislehurst

If the hon. Gentleman will cast his mind back, he will remember that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House most emphatically in this House enjoined people when the national identity card system came to an end that the numbers would apply to the National Health Service.

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Lewisham South

Can the hon. Lady really deal with this? Was it not the case that the country was given the impression that it was a great act of virtue on the part of the Government to abolish the national registration numbers, that it was, so to speak, an act of setting the people free, but is it not the case now that we are told that people should not have been set free and that they should remember their registration numbers? Are they not now landed with two numbers, the registration number and the National Health number, and will they not get into a state of confusion?

Photo of Miss Patricia Hornsby-Smith Miss Patricia Hornsby-Smith , Chislehurst

The right hon. Gentleman—it is unusual for him, I must confess—is more than ever confused about this matter. It was due to the practical application of common sense by this Government that, instead of instituting a new series of registration numbers for the National Health Service, we applied the national registration numbers.