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Medical Treatment Abroad (Special Allowance)

Volume 462: debated on Tuesday 1 March 1949

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49.

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether he will consider the granting of a special sterling allocation to certain tuberculous patients, who can be certified as having become acclimatised to residence only at high altitudes.

I do not think that it would be appropriate to issue a general instruction in the sense suggested. All applications for foreign currency on health grounds are considered by the Medical Advisory Committee, who base their recommendations on the medical evidence submitted in each individual case. If such evidence included a reference to the effect of climatic conditions on the patient, it would no doubt be taken into account along with other factors.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many patients of this particular group have had their resistance to disease lowered after their return to this country and have died of quite minor ailments; and, in connection with this particular group, would he accept the medical evidence of foreign doctors resident in Switzerland and urge that upon his medical advisory council?

The Medical Advisory Committee do take these factors into account. We must leave it to them. They are the experts in these matters.

Is there any reason why the Medical Advisory Committee should remain anonymous?

That question has been answered on more than one occasion. It is necessary in order that pressure should not be brought upon the members in individual cases.

Does the Advisory Committee consider individual cases or does it merely lay down rules which are applied without discretion?

Indeed, no. The panel does consider individual cases. The papers sent on individual cases are considered in great detail.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say what are the terms of reference of the Committee from the financial point of view?

What I meant was, to what extent are they hampered or limited by Treasury instructions from the point of view of exchange?

If the hon. Gentleman would put that question on the Order Paper I will endeavour to answer it.