asked the Minister of Health if he is aware that public support of voluntary organisations for the welfare of the blind and other handicapped persons is being adversely affected by his recent pronouncement regarding hospital collections; and if he will make it clear that the State does not defray the cost of this welfare work.
My pronouncement referred solely to hospitals in the National Health Service. The National Assistance Act fully recognises the valuable work of the voluntary bodies referred to and I am glad to take this opportunity of correcting any impression that they are no longer playing an effective part in the provision of welfare services.
Will my right hon. Friend also make it clear that the social security services cannot possibly function without the voluntary welfare services, which depend very largely on the goodwill of the public for voluntary funds? Will he also make it perfectly clear that blind and deaf persons are not necessarily sick persons?
I have always, elsewhere—and I do. so with great pleasure here—expressed the view that in my opinion the voluntary organisations are the only means by which effective assistance can be given to handicapped classes of all kinds and I therefore very much endorse what my hon. Friend has said.