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Tubercular Patients (Allowances)

Volume 393: debated on Thursday 4 November 1943

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68.

asked the Minister of Health whether he is satisfied that the allowances given to patients suffering from tuberculosis are adequate?

The scales on which tuberculosis authorities are being reimbursed by the Exchequer in paying maintenance allowances to tuberculosis patients are in my opinion adequate for the purpose in view.

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that the object of these allowances was to relieve the anxiety of the patients and to encourage them to undergo treatment, and that in view of the fact that the amount of the allowances in some areas is little different from the public assistance rate, this purpose is not achieved?

The primary purpose is to make it easier for persons suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis to receive treatment without deterrent anxiety. I believe that there is a widespread welcome for this development.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in point of fact some of the categories in the Memorandum are actually receiving less than the public assistance scale?

69.

asked the Minister of Health why he is granting allowances to patients suffering from acute tuberculosis and withholding them from chronic and incurable cases?

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Jackson) on 28th October, of which I am sending her a copy.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the treatment of the tubercular in this respect is the most inhuman that can be devised, because the patient who is refused an allowance knows therefore that he is incurable?

I do not agree with that. The problem put to me was an industrial one. I asked the Medical Research Council to set up a Committee, which they did, under Lord Dawson. I got their Report, and allowances were settled for the first time in history, and we got a roe per cent. grant from the Exchequer on a war basis. The larger problem falls to be considered with the whole large question of dependants' allowances for sick persons.

Will the right hon. Gentleman give a direct answer to the Question? It is a most savage and unjust business to hand out what is practically a death certificate to people.

I do not agree with that view, nor does the Secretary of State for Scotland.

70.

asked the Minister of Health how many applications from tubercular patients for treatment and dependants' allowances have been refused since the inception of the scheme on the grounds that the applicants were not suffering from acute pulmonary tuberculosis and were unlikely to be fit for work within an ascertainable period?

I am asking local authorities in England and Wales for a report on the operation of the scheme to which my hon. Friend refers up to 31st December and will consider what can be done to include information on the points which he mentions.