Prescription Charges

Oral Answers to Questions — Ministry of Health – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 1 November 1965.

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Photo of Brigadier Terence Clarke Brigadier Terence Clarke , Portsmouth West 12:00, 1 November 1965

asked the Minister of Health (1) what has been the cost of the abolition of prescription charges to date; and how these figures compare with the estimates he made;

(2) what he now estimates will be the cost of the abolition of prescription charges for a full year; and how these estimates compare with those presented earlier in the year.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Robinson Mr Kenneth Robinson , St Pancras North

It is not possible to make reliable estimates of the effect on the drug bill of the abolition of prescription charges, since this factor cannot be isolated from other factors, including those mentioned in my reply to the hon. and learned Member for Bebington (Mr. Howe) of 4th August.

Photo of Brigadier Terence Clarke Brigadier Terence Clarke , Portsmouth West

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that it would have been much better if he had not abolished the prescription charges in toto but had abolished them only for people who cannot afford to pay, such as old-age pensioners and others on small fixed incomes?

Photo of Mr Kenneth Robinson Mr Kenneth Robinson , St Pancras North

No, Sir. I do not agree that it was a mistake to abolish the prescription charges. We have discussed on a number of occasions the problem of trying to distinguish between cases of hardship and others. I would point out to the hon. and gallant Gentleman that the Opposition did not table a Prayer against the Order abolishing prescription charges.

Photo of Sir Keith Joseph Sir Keith Joseph , Leeds North East

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is here involved both a loss of revenue and an almost certain increase in costs due to the rise in the number of prescriptions? Is he satisfied that in view of the other needs of the service all this extra public expenditure is really justified?

Photo of Mr Kenneth Robinson Mr Kenneth Robinson , St Pancras North

I am satisfied that it was the right thing to do to abolish prescription charges. As I have told the right hon. Gentleman before, this was a perfectly clear, categorical pledge made by the Labour Party when in opposition. We have heard a great deal from the Conservative Party about pledges which are alleged to be broken. Here is a pledge that was carried out.

Later

Photo of Sir Charles Taylor Sir Charles Taylor , Eastbourne

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I thought that you were calling the hon. Member for Dearne Valley (Mr. Wainwright) to ask a supplementary question on Questions Nos. 58 and 59 and not to ask Question No. 60. Otherwise, I should have given notice—and I hope I am not too late to do so—that I should like to raise the subject of those Questions on the Adjournment.

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Itchen

Order. I am not responsible for the hon. Gentleman's failure to understand where we are. He is out of order now.

Photo of Sir Charles Taylor Sir Charles Taylor , Eastbourne

Am I in order now, Mr. Speaker, in giving notice that I wish to raise these matters on the Adjournment?

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Itchen

No. The hon. Gentleman is not in order, and is wasting precious Question time.