asked the Minister of Health, in view of the recent representations which have been made to him, including those by the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East, if he will now take steps to reduce the charges imposed under the provisions of the National Health Service Act, 1952.
These charges are being continued at present, but, as I have previously informed the hon. Member, I always keep under consideration all relevant circumstances relating to the financing of the Health Service.
Has the right hon. Gentleman not made effective representations to his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, making it clear that at least in his view these charges should be done away with long before a reduction of 2d. a pint in the price of beer?
There is nothing in my Answer which prophesies a statement from me on this subject, but it is clear from it that I have under consideration all relevant circumstances relating to the financing of the Service.
Does not my right hon. Friend think it strange that those who now wish to remove these charges should have been prepared to bring in legislation enabling them to be introduced when they were in office?
I agree with my hon. Friend on that, and what the House may find even more strange is the somewhat disingenuous way in which the hon. Member put his Question, referring only to the National Health Service Act, 1952, under which only a small minority of these charges are imposed, and omitting altogether any reference to the 1949 and 1951 Acts, both of which were passed under the administration of the hon. Member's Party.