asked the Minister of Health what progress has been made in the discussions between his Department and representatives of the Society of Chiropodists and the Institute of Chiropodists about the proposals by local health authorities for the provision of chiropody services.
I have considered the points made by the representatives of these two bodies and have taken them into account in the terms of the circular I shall be issuing to local health authorities.
Will my right hon. and learned Friend give an assurance that he has taken into full account the strong feeling of the members of the Society of Chiropodists and the Institute of Chiropodists that this treatment can best be carried out in the existing surgeries of the chiropodists concerned rather than in central clinics, and is he aware that this would not merely mean a saving in public money but would also allow patients to have the chiropodist of their choice in the manner in which they get their medical and dental treatment?
There will be more than one way in which the local health authorities can implement the service. It will be open to them, as one of these means, to arrange for persons to be treated at a chiropodist's private surgery on terms which will have to be negotiated. That appears in the circular, and I hope it will go a considerable way to meet the point of view of the chiropodists' associations.
Surely the Minister should have told the House the recommendations in the circular before it went out? He will recall that when he first made a statement he was asked from this side of the House whether he would tell us more about what he proposed to do, and he said on that occasion that he was not ready, and we naturally waited to hear more from him. It is astonishing now to learn that he has already framed a circular for the local authorities without having told the House what the main principles are.
The right hon. Lady is putting forward a very strange doctrine. When I announce a principle I go on to implement it at the earliest possible opportunity. I should have thought that that was one of the elements of good administration.
Should not the Minister also consider the elements of courtesy to this side of the House? After he had made his announcement he was asked supplementary questions, and I asked a question or two. I asked about the domiciliary service, which is very important for old people. I should have thought that the elements of courtesy would have demanded that the right hon. and learned Gentleman would have told the House what he proposed to do.
I remember the right hon. Lady's question about domiciliary visits very well. It is clear that the service will need to include domiciliary visits to people who cannot leave their homes or be transported to clinics. That is a clear part of the service. But the right hon. Lady will search the precedents in vain to find a case where a Minister has brought his circulars to the House in detail before circulating them.