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Volume 466: debated on Tuesday 28 June 1949

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asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many applications have been received for spectacles; how many have been supplied; and at what date may all applicants expect to have their needs met.

The number of persons found to be in need of glasses up to the end of May was approximately 775,000, of whom over 410,000 persons had been supplied. The waiting period at present varies from three to six months. The output of glasses is increasing and numbers of new applicants diminishing, so I expect that the waiting period will now quite rapidly decrease.

Can the right hon. Gentleman answer the Question? How many applications have been received; not how many have been approved.

The point is the number of persons who were found, after they had applied, to be in need of glasses. We do not record the number of people who apply.

My Question was how many applications have been received. I was anxious to ascertain consumer demand.

Is it not a fact that there were a large number of shortsighted people in Scotland in 1945?

Can the right hon. Gentleman indicate to the House whether he applies, and if so how, any scheme of priorities to those most urgently needing spectacles?

A certain amount of influence has been used in the case of children in special circumstances, and the people supplying these glasses have been very considerate. The demand has been overwhelming, showing the great need in past years that has never been met.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether foreign eyesight has proved more sensitive or less sensitive to shortness than the British variety?

I have no particulars of any foreigner who has been able to wait long enough in this country to get glasses. However, I have details of the number of mythical and other foreigners who have received dental treatment, and only 12 cases have been treated in Scotland, mostly for emergency toothache.