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Service Patients (Christmas Amenities)

Volume 395: debated on Thursday 2 December 1943

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asked the Minister of Health whether his Circular 2884 issued to local authorities and others notifying them that 6d. per head may be granted to wounded soldiers, sailors and airmen for Christmas amenities, represents his final decision upon the amount adequate for the men's needs and generous enough at this season?

This authority to incur extra expenditure on Christmas amenities for Service patients was issued to hospitals in the emergency hospital scheme at the request of the Ministers for the Service Departments and is not a matter for my right hon. Friend's decision.

Will the hon. Lady consider withdrawing this rather paltry Order and substituting something more in accordance with her own generous instincts?

I would point out that we have been asked to do this by the Service Ministries. I do not quite see why the generous instinct of an individual should not be shown to an individual patient or patients in hospital. It is not necessary to do it out of public funds.

The hon. Lady's Ministry is adopting these proposals and surely can alter the Order under these circumstances?

No; perhaps I did not make it clear to the hon. Member that the Services Ministries asked us, as agents, to allow this grant where there are Service patients in the emergency hospitals.

Will the hon. Lady warn the hospital authorities to see that Service patients do not get intoxicated over the festive season with this 6d.?

I think hon. Members will agree when they go to hospitals at Christmas time that a great deal is done for and is appreciated by the patients?

Did the Service Departments in asking for this concession ask specifically for 6d.?

Does this mean that in this particular case, as in many others, the Ministry is prepared to depend on private charity?

My opinion is that Christmas season's gifts and giving pleasure to other people may be called by the hon. Member private charity, but I am glad that it still exists.

Can the hon. Lady give any idea of the total amount involved in this giving of 6d. a head?

No, I am afraid I cannot without notice. It is quite a considerable sum, which will be used in the hospitals for entertaining and brightening the time for the patients.