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Orders Of The Day

Volume 498: debated on Tuesday 8 April 1952

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National Health Service Bill

Considered in Committee [ Progress, 3rd April].

[Colonel Six CHARLES MACANDREW in the Chair]

Clause 1—(Charges For Certain Drugs, Medicines And Appliances)

4.4 p.m.

On a point of order. I desire to seek your guidance, Sir Charles, on a question of procedure. At the commencement of the Committee stage of the Bill last Thursday, I raised a point of order, and you were good enough to give your Ruling. When you had answered my question, you proceeded to put before us a proposal of your own. As I now understand it, that proposal was that when we reached the second Amendment now on the Order Paper, that is to say, the Amendment in page 1, line 9, at the end, to insert "other than artificial limbs," we could discuss with it the subsequent 13 Amendments, down to, and including the Amendment in page 1, line 9, relating to trusses for hernia.

I think I am right in saying that that was the first occasion of a Chairman of a Committee being willing to allow such a large number of Amendments to be taken together for the purpose of debate. Your proposal therefore came to us as a surprise, and was not readily accepted by the Committee. I have since discussed the matter with some of my hon. Friends. I need hardly tell you that we think that there is a very good case for taking separately each of the Amendments to which I have referred, but I understand that that course would not be acceptable to you because you are compelled by Standing Orders to exercise your right of selection.

That being so, I think that it would be in the best interest of Members on all sides of the Committee if we took those 14 Amendments together for the purpose of debate, and at the conclusion of the debate, if the Government reject any of the Amendments, for you to allow a certain number of Divisions. May I ask whether you would be willing to renew the kind offer which you made to us last Thursday, and whether you would give your Ruling on the matter of Divisions at the end of the debate in question?

I thank the hon. Member for very kindly giving me notice that he was going to raise this matter again. I selected four Amendments at the end of line 9, designed to include various appliances. In view of the fact that many hon. Members on both sides of the House who wanted to speak on the Second Reading were disappointed, it might be for the convenience of the Committee if the debate on the first Amendment were wide enough to range over all these various appliances. At the end of this debate the Committee could divide on four of the Amendments if they wish to do so. I shall call the Amendments in the order that they appear on the Order Paper, and should there be four Divisions I shall then call the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Tottenham (Mr. Messer), in page 1, line 9, at the end to insert:

Provided that no such charge for an appliance shall exceed one-quarter of its cost to the Minister or the sum of one pound whichever be the less.

On the Second Reading, the Minister was asked which of the surgical appliances would bear the charge, and he specifically mentioned four of them. Hon. Members on this side of the Committee will feel compelled to divide on those four, but we might be eased out of our problem and difficulty today if the Minister, having told us on Second Reading that he would make charges on only four, would give us some reassurance that between now and the Report stage he would consider bringing forward an Amendment to make it quite clear that he does not intend to charge for the others that we have had to list to protect ourselves. If the Minister will do this—apparently this was his intention—it will ease our problem this afternoon

Might I ask a question, Sir Charles? I take it that the number of Amendments you mentioned does not include the one standing in my name to insert a proviso?

No, the proviso is a different one. After the four Divisions I propose to go straight to the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman. The question of the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Dr. Stross) is one for the Minister, not for me.

You have suggested, Sir Charles, that the debate can range very wide, so that we shall be able to bring in the various Amendments. Many hon. Members on this side of the Committee would also like to know that there will be adequate time given to this debate, and that the Closure will not be moved as quickly as it was both times last Thursday, when there were still many hon. Members who wished to take part in the debate.

The acceptance of the Closure is entirely in the hands of the Chair, and if the Chair thinks there has been adequate discussion, the Chair is willing to accept it.

You said, Sir Charles, that the matter I raised was essentially one for the Minister. May I suggest to you, with respect, that I am asking for your protection against the Minister, and I do so with some confidence. The position is this. If, having received a verbal promise on the Floor of the Committee on the four kinds of surgical appliances, the Minister is not willing to say that he will include them at the next stage, how are we to trust him, how can we give up our rights, and how are you to assist us in the matter?

On a point of order, Sir Charles. I am particularly interested in one kind of appliance. The Minister was kind enough to say during the Second Reading that he would not include hearing aids among those to be charged for, but unless something is put into the Bill to that effect, how can I know that there may not be a complete change in what he proposes to do?

That question is one which will come up in due course as we proceed with the Committee stage of the Bill. I cannot pretend to answer it, because I do not know the answer.

But how can hon. Members show their disapproval if we cannot divide on these Amendments?

If you accept only four Amendments for Division, Sir Charles, how can we show our disapproval of the others?

It appears to be acceptable to the Committee that as soon as we have had four Divisions we shall go on to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Tottenham (Mr. Messer).

That means, then, that hon. Members on this side of the Committee will be limited as to the number of Amendments on which they can disclose their point of view.

No, they will not be limited as to the number of Amendments on which they can express their point of view, but they will be limited as to the number they can divide on.

It would be for the convenience for both sides of the Committee, Sir Charles, if we could have an assurance from the Minister on what he is prepared to accept and what he is prepared to reject. It is no use our wasting time discussing Amendments on the Order Paper if, at the end of the day, the Minister tells us that between now and the Report stage he will consider the proposals we put before him. May I ask the Minister to give us a reply to the question we have put to him?

On a point of order. I am very ready to do so, Sir Charles, but I did not see how I could do it on a point of order. If an Amendment were moved, I could say what was necessary, but it is not a point of order. That was the only reason for my hesitancy.

I beg to move, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."

I do so simply to enable the right hon. Gentleman to make the statement he wants to make.

I think we had better start with the Amendment of the right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand). If the first Amendment is carried, the other 14 will not arise.

I am rather confused, Sir Charles. My hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mr. Baird) rightly pointed out that, as we have been given no guarantee and there is no terminal point to this Bill, it is important for us to ensure, not merely in regard to the right hon. Gentleman but in regard to any possible successor of his, that certain appliances which, we think, should never in any circumstance be charged for, shall be discussed and shall be included in the Bill in such a way as to prevent any possibility of charges for the future. There is involved here not merely the question of the immediate intentions of the right hon. Gentleman in any regulations which he may bring forward, but also our desire to protect for the future the users of various appliances from any possibility of the imposition of a charge. At the moment we are rather confused as to how we stand on the point of principle.

4.15 p.m.

All I can say is that I have called the right hon. Gentleman to move his Amendment—[An HON. MEMBER: "He has moved a Motion."]—I have not accepted it. If the Amendment is carried, then all the 14 other Amendments fall because all appliances will be left out.

On a point of order. Would the Minister be in order in replying to my question, Sir Charles?

If I move my Amendment, recognising that you have not accepted the Motion I have just moved, Sir Charles, I hope it will be open for me at the conclusion of the debate on that subject, if I still need further clarification, to move to report Progress so that we may know what the position is on the subsequent Amendments, assuming that the Minister might refuse to accept my Motion.

May I put this point, Sir Charles? I think it is a little discourteous of the Minister of Health. The right hon. Gentleman said he was prepared to make a statement to clarify the position, but was not in a position to do so because there was no Motion before the Committee. My right hon. Friend had no intention of obstructing. To help the Minister, he moved a Motion and you, Sir Charles, have refused to accept it.

I refused to accept the Motion to report Progress, but I have called an Amendment. Once it is moved, perhaps the Minister will reply.

I beg to move, in page 1, line 9, to leave out "or appliances."

You have already said, Sir Charles, that if this Amendment were accepted the 14 other Amendments about appliances would be unnecessary. The right hon. Gentleman himself, earlier this afternoon, in a statement which he made to the House, as distinct from this Committee, said he hoped that hon. Members in all parts would co-operate in speeding up the consideration of the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman has now been given a golden opportunity of setting an example in this respect. If he will accept this Amendment, we shall have made some progress because the 14 other Amendments will not be necessary.

The right hon. Gentleman has also shown that in this field of the Bill, at any rate, he is prepared to listen to representations. When the proposal to make charges of this kind was first announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Blenkinsop) drew his attention and that of the House to the hardship which would be caused to old people in general, and to old age pensioners in particular, by imposing a charge on hearing aids. The Minister has since told the House that when he brings forward his regulations he has decided not to impose such charges. In that respect he has listened to the voice of public opinion.

Since then, looking at the whole thing again, he has gone even further than that and said that when he introduces his regulations he will impose charges on four types of appliances only. Now as a result of imposing charges on four sorts of appliances only we understand that he hopes to get a saving from this part of the Bill of only £250,000. That is not a very large contribution towards closing the inflationary gap. To accept this Amendment would not greatly affect the purpose which he has told us he has chiefly in mind—the reduction of Government expenditure; it would reduce it by only £250,000.

Perhaps this afternoon the Minister will think again. Perhaps he will harken a little to the voice of public opinion which has expressed itself in recent days in the London County Council and other elections. I hope that the hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain MacLeod), will add his voice to mine on this occasion. He must have listened rather closely to the voice of Middlesex when it was expressed in recent local elections. Perhaps he will come forward now and make a speech on this Bill.

Hitherto, the speeches with which he has regaled us have been addressed principally to the Bill I introduced last year. We should like to hear from him what he thinks about these charges. Rumour has it that he played a significant part behind the scenes in securing certain Amendments to the Bill which the right hon. Gentleman has put down, and I hope that he will strive to add to his score this afternoon.

The right hon. Gentleman is quite wrong on that point. He really must not judge this party by his own. Our private meetings remain private, and, consequently, the Press have to guess at what takes place. On this, as on many other occasions, they guessed wrongly.

I am sorry to find that the hon. Gentleman has not a kind heart after all. He sits there looking very stern, but I thought that was perhaps a poker face—I am not sure what a bridge face may be—for concealing warm emotions, and that he had been active in this matter.

What I wish to draw attention to particularly is that on this Clause we are dealing only with appliances supplied through the hospital and specialist services, yet we were told by the right hon. Gentleman that there was abuse. I think we are entitled to ask for a further explanation of how there has been abuse in the supply of appliances through consultants at the hospitals. On 27th March the right hon. Gentleman said:
"there have been a good many cases of alleged abuse reported."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th March, 1952; Vol. 498, c. 850.]
That is not a very emphatic statement, and it certainly is not very convincing.

If the right hon. Gentleman is not prepared to accept this simple Amendment, which would cost him so very little of the money he aims to save, I hope that he will bring forward more evidence than he has done hitherto and explain to us how abuse can arise in a situation like this. Music-hall jokes about wigs are not enough for this purpose. We want to know how orders which must be signed by a consultant who has examined the patient can be an abuse of the service. We believe that every one of the appliances named in the list of Amendments which have been put down, supplied through the hospital and specialist services, is essential to the needs of patients.

Moreover, because I was responsible for it for a considerable time, I happen to know very well that all these appliances are procured by the Minister of Pensions on behalf of the Minister of Health and the Secretary of State for Scotland. They are bought by an organisation within the Ministry of Pensions. Not only are the goods themselves essential and prescribed by a specialist, but the quality and type of manufacture of the goods are controlled by the Minister of Pensions.

I remember very well that when I was Minister of Pensions, and my officials were making an annual review of what they procured for the Minister of Health for this purpose during the previous 12 months, many Questions were provoked. There was a great discussion; the Surgical Instrument Manufacturers' Association made representations, and many hon. Members opposite put down a lot of Questions to me about the price that was being offered for tender for these types of goods.

Fortunately, the attempt of the Surgical Instrument Manufacturers' Association to ensure that no member tendered except after approval by the Association did not come off: that particular piece of restrictive practice did not come off, and certain substantial manufacturers properly and patriotically tendered at prices which my Department had decided were reasonable.

With that type of scrutiny going on, with the experts of the Ministry of Pensions, who for 30 years have been responsible for supplying appliances to war pensioners, in charge of the procurement of appliances for the Health Service, I do not believe that it is possible for any abuse to creep in at that end. Nor do I see how it is possible for abuse to creep in at the point where the specialist himself, examining a patient, prescribes a particular appliance as absolutely necessary for that patient's welfare.

We here face a very grave risk, where patients are obliged to pay half of the cost of their appliance—and some of them are fairly expensive articles—either of patients being afraid to go to the hospital and submit themselves to the examination which results in the prescription of an appliance, or of patients deferring their return to hospital when the appliance becomes worn out.

When I was Minister of Pensions I put on view in my office at Blackpool an exhibition of artificial limbs which had actually been taken from National Health Service patients. I know that artificial limbs are not likely to be charged by the right hon. Gentleman, but I mention this by way of a perfectly fair illustration. The artificial limbs actually taken from the old men and old women when they came in, when the Health Service had given them the opportunity to obtain properly made limbs free of charge, were completely shocking.

I published a photograph of them in the annual report of the Ministry of Pensions, showing completely unsuitable contraptions—there is not other word for them—bolted together with bits of wire and tied up with string; too heavy, too awkward, and in many cases—it is sad to think so, but it is true—in a disgustingly insanitary condition because these poor old people quite unable to pay even part of the cost of such appliances, had gone on wearing them for years.

Some had gone to incompetent manufacturers in the first place; or even when they got a good appliance they had to try to make it last so long, because they could not afford to pay for another, that the thing was positively injurious to their physical condition, and causing them to walk wrongly, and so on. Some of these people were confined to very short journeys indeed because the appliance was such that it could be used for only short periods because of the acute discomfort. That is the sort of danger which arises from a proposal to charge for appliances of the type which we are considering this afternoon There is the danger of failure to get the appliance, or the danger of using an inadequate, monstrous appliance for too long, and we are asked to run a risk of that kind for the sake of saving only £250,000.

I do not want to speak long because I know that many of my hon. Friends wish to submit expert evidence from their own experience on hospital boards and the like. I do hope the right hon. Gentleman will now expedite our proceedings by accepting this fair and reasonable Amendment in the spirit in which I have tried to advance the argument for it and thus shorten our debate.

4.30 p.m.

I am only too ready to assist the Committee. I was in some difficulty earlier on as to whether it was proper to say anything at all. I certainly was not responsible for putting the Committee into any state of confusion, as it was alleged to be 10 minutes ago. I think that if the Committee gets into confusion it will be for somewhat different reasons. It seemed to be really a question of raising different points of order about the Amendments, and I took no part in that at all.

I feel that I was quite clear in my statement on the Second Reading of what was intended. If my statement was not clear, I can only repeat it. I must say, looking again in HANSARD, that it does not seem to me to be anything but perfectly clear. I pointed out that a great many rumours and exaggerations had got about on the subject of the appliances, and I said specifically that we had no intention of dealing with artificial legs or arms. Then I specifically mentioned the four categories which were intended to come within the scope of the Bill.

The first category was surgical boots and their repair. I informed the House that the proposed charge would be £3 a pair and that there would be a charge for repair—in the case of women between 6s. and 13s. 6d. and for men between 8s. and 13s. 6d. The second category was surgical abdominal supports, and there I said that we proposed to charge £1. That was the only case—surgical abdominal supports—in which I made any reference to abuse at all. The right hon. Gentleman objects to that word. It is not a matter on which I have any figures available, I regret to say, but there have been a certain number of borderline cases, shall we say, where we understand that some pressure has from time to time been brought to bear for permitting the use of some supports which were not very far removed from ordinary corsets. I think that must be within the general knowledge of hon. Members.

To whom is the right hon. Gentleman referring when he speaks of abuses?

Those who go to the consultants, I presume. One has heard that. That is all I meant to say.

There is a Central Health Services Council, with advisory duties. Can the right hon. Gentleman say if that body or any other responsible body has submitted any proof at all of any abuses?

No, I do not think they have, but I have been advised that there have been a good many what might be called borderline cases.

The right hon. Gentleman has referred to borderline cases. Is it not for the specialist service to decide whether or not they are borderline cases? Is not the responsibility in this matter wholly with the specialist services that we employ in various hospitals throughout the country? Is the right hon. Gentleman suggesting that the specialist services will allow pressure to be brought to bear on them to supply articles in borderline cases which are unnecessary?

There may be such occasions. This is only a small charge, and this is one of four groups of appliances in which it is proposed to impose a charge.

This is an important point, which obviously interests the Committee. If the right hon. Gentleman has any medical evidence suggesting that there has been improper pressure or abuse of this facility, then I think he has an obligation to submit it to the Committee. If, on the other hand, he has not, I suggest that he should clear the consultant service by saying that he has no evidence of abuse.

I have said that I have no figures or anything of that kind, but that view is still held in many quarters. [HON. MEMBERS: "Which quarters?"] I shall listen to any arguments which are put forward during the course of the debate. That is the only instance in which I used the word, and I thought I might as well explain why I had used those words that were attributed to me—that there had been a certain number of borderline cases or whatever we like to call them.

The third item is elastic hosiery, on which it is proposed to charge 5s. and 10s., and the fourth category is wigs, on which the proposed charge is £2 10s. That is all that I said on the Second Reading, and that is all that is now proposed. I have no intention whatever of asking the Committee to agree to any charges on anything else. I hope that is a clear enough answer to the question which the right hon. Gentleman put to me.

The issue which is raised is whether or not this Amendment should be accepted which takes out the word "appliances" from the Bill altogether. In other words, hon. Members opposite do not wish any charge to be made for any appliance. That is the point at issue between us. We wish to bring the charges for the service within the ceiling which the Government has deemed to be right—and, of course, the use of a ceiling in this field is not novel; it was adopted by our predecessors.

We were seeing how we could keep the general cost below that ceiling with the least possible disadvantage. After all, like everybody else, I agree that if we had no ceilings and could spend all we wanted to spend, no doubt we could do a great many things which we should like to do, but common prudence and the fact that we have to have some regard to the expenditure of public money makes it impossible.

Therefore, we have been looking to see how we can keep below that ceiling and do the least possible damage. This is one of the measures to that end. The right hon. Gentleman said that £250,000 is not very much to save. I agree it is not very much, but it is something. Together with the other items, it enables us to bring the general cost below the ceiling. Therefore, I ask the Committee to keep the word "appliances" in the Bill. That is the issue between us. When I am asked what are the appliances on which there are to be charges, the answer is that they are those four—surgical boots and repairs, abdominal supports, elastic hosiery and wigs.

If I may take the matter a little further, it might be that hon. Members opposite would agree to leave the word "appliances" in the Bill, but according to the Amendments on the Paper they want specifically to exempt a whole series of different things, including, of course, those on which we propose to make a charge. They want each one of them specifically excluded, and a lot of other things as well.

My answer to that general group of Amendments—although they are not actually before the Committee it is part of the argument I am submitting—is that this is just the kind of thing to leave to regulatory powers, so long as there are regulatory powers. There are those powers introduced by the original Act by which, for example, charges on prescriptions given by the general practitioner will come before the House in the form of regulations and the Government came to the conclusion that if we were to make charges for appliances the same practice should be used. Therefore, the regulatory power, rather than the actual enactment in the Bill, was the most convenient form of proceeding.

Instead of putting a series of exemptions in this Clause, I ask that when the time comes that should not be done but that the word "appliances" should stand part—although, by this Amendment hon. Members want to remove it—and that we should keep the power of making charges for appliances by regulation. The regulation which will come forward under this Clause will cover the four, and only the four, things I mentioned in my Second Reading speech, which I repeated today and which, I think, are now clear beyond a peradventure.

The recent demonstration for industrial action in the constituency I represent in the Rhondda Valley is indicative of the mood there towards the charges proposed in this Bill. It may be judged to be an unreasonable mood that has been expressed in the recent boycott of Saturday working, but at least it is a mood and I think that if the measures proposed by the Minister are to be applied they will cause a great deal of irritation among the most important section of the community—the industrial workers.

From what I have seen of it, the proposal to make charges for appliances is bound to cause a great deal of hardship to industrial workers, particularly in the heavy industries. In the industry with which I am connected, and have been connected for more than 30 years—the mining industry—there is a very high accident rate. In fact, 33 per cent. of the injuries and accidents under the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Act—a third of the total throughout the country—occur in the mining industry.

From my personal knowledge I know that there are several hundreds of men in the mining industry who have suffered very severely. They have had their bodies severely mangled, deformed, twisted and fractured as a result of following this most arduous occupation. Apart from men totally disabled and remaining out of employment, a very large percentage of men, despite their physical disabilities, are anxious to get back to the point of production. I know of many men who have to wear a type of industrial harness to maintain themselves in employment.

4.45 p.m.

Let it be noted that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, on more than one occasion, has been very flattering and complimentary to the miners. The Committee are fully aware of the extent to which the miners are responding to the appeals made from both sides of the House to assist the Government and the country in emerging from the present crisis. What does the Minister consider would be the reaction of these men, who are not only working five days a week from Monday to Friday but also on Saturday and Sunday, and putting their whole effort into the job, when they meet with an accident and its nature is such that they require some type of industrial appliance to maintain them in work? What is likely to be the reaction of such men in such an important industry?

When I speak of the coal industry I am not unmindful of men in the other heavy industries in the country, but my illustrations are drawn from the mining industry because I am so near to it. Provisions made by the National Coal Board for the maintenance and replacement of machinery are well known to all hon. Members. If a jigger, a coal cutter, or a belt is worn out, or fractured, there are facilities and means of replacement out of moneys set aside by the Board, which, after all, is the national wealth, to provide for replacements.

But when we come to the human factor in the industry, the man who, by his efforts and enthusiasm, meets with an accident and has to obtain surgical supports, anyone acquainted with the mining industry in particular and other industries generally knows full well the very high incidence of hernia cases which occur.

The imposition of this charge will not be an incentive but a deterrent, because the greater effort the man who has been disabled as a result of a severe accident makes to fit himself for replacement in the mining industry the more it will cost him. There are many men in the heavy industries—hundreds in the coal mines—who are able to carry on in employment and respond to the appeal of the Chancellor only because they wear a support to enable them to continue their work. That being so, why should the Government at this or any other stage impose this charge upon willing men who want to be maintained in employment not only to preserve their standard of life, but to make their contribution towards national recovery?

At the time the Clause was drafted, I do not know whether the Minister was fully conscious that it would have this far-reaching effect and of the punitive implications of this imposition upon such a body as I refer to, the industrial workers. The charge now to be imposed is, I think, cruelly unjust. I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman, on behalf of the men in heavy industries, to reconsider the matter and accept the arguments which have been, and will be, advanced for this Amendment.

After listening to what the Minister of Health said just now, it is very difficult to escape the impression that the Government are desirous of making charges on the National Health Service for purely doctrinal reasons; that they appear to think that there is something wholly bad about a free Health Service, and that no matter how flimsy the pretext, charges should be made. That is the only conclusion one can reach from what has been said.

No substantial argument has been advanced that this proposal is necessary to obtain finance. The whole of the appliances, as I believe, including appliances made by the Ministry of Pensions amounting to about £4 million a year, the whole of the cost of the charges now proposed to be made, about £250,000, is out of the total hospital expenditure of £230 million. It is very hard to listen to those figures without coming to the conclusion that the members of the Tory Party represented by the Government are concerned primarily about breeching the principle of free service rather than collecting revenue for the State.

I am astonished that hon. Members sitting behind the Minister have allowed it to go on. I can understand hon. Members taking the view that certain policies are right and for the welfare of the State and should be proceeded with despite their temporary unpopularity. That is a perfectly proper point of view which any responsible public man must face from time to time. Very often, to use Tennyson's phrase, he has to

"Await the far off interest of tears"
and to apply that principle although, for the moment, it is to his electoral disadvantage. But for the life of me I cannot see any justification for inflicting inconvenience upon large numbers of people without any corresponding financial advantage. It is most astonishing, and I am amazed that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen of such long public experience should expose themselves to such electoral disadvantage for such a ridiculous reason. I should have thought that they would reconsider the whole matter.

When the right hon. Gentleman said that this proposal was necessary to keep within the ceiling—once more we are back to King Charles's head—he did not seem sufficiently to appreciate the fact that the ceiling has already gone. Is he really seriously proposing to assimilate the £10 million a year increase for general practitioners within the ceiling? I should like an answer to that. Is he intending to do it? I should like to know. I am prepared to give way to the right hon. Gentleman—[HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] I do not want to embarrass him; I merely want to put the Committee in possession of the facts.

I have already put the Committee in possession of the facts. What I was trying to remember was exactly which occasion it was when I pointed out that the adjudication—which has nothing to do with this, Sir Charles, but I hope you will allow me to reply to the right hon. Gentleman—

—the adjudication covered, of course, what would be the charge for the year 1950–51 plus the preceding and subsequent years. The charge for the current year was somewhere in the region of £10 million and there was some little room for manœuvre, if I might use the right hon. Gentleman's own words. That is to say, the ceiling had not been quite reached under the Estimates for this year and it would therefore be very little exceeded, so far as I can see at present, by the addition of this £10 million. It would probably be slightly exceeded—

May I put this to the Minister? His words at the end of his explanation on the matter were:

"That is on the assumption that the £30 million payable next year is taken out of this account altogether. That is the assumption I made; it is not to be counted against the ceiling."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th March, 1952; Vol. 498, c. 859.]

I am not speaking of the £30 million at all. It is perfectly clear from what the right hon. Gentleman said on a previous occasion that he was not expecting to reach £30 million out of his ceiling. I am talking about the £10 million. It would be quite unreasonable for the Chancellor to expect the right hon. Gentleman to find £30 million. That would "bust" the whole hospital service. I am not talking about that. I am speaking about the £10 million. What we would like to know is whether, assuming that the Chancellor finds the £30 million, the right hon. Gentleman intends to find the £10 million within the ceiling.

May I continue with my quotation? I think I put it perfectly clearly. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman was not present—oh, I see he interrupted in one sentence, so he must have been here:

"The conclusion is that it is not the intention of the Government, as a result of the Danckwerts award, to increase any of the charges I have mentioned in connection with this Bill and that if, as a result of this award and the £10 million or so next year, the figure of £400 million is surpassed in 1952–3 that is a situation which we shall all have to accept."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th March, 1952; Vol. 498, c. 860.]

That really shows the frivolous irrelevancy of the reference by the right hon. Gentleman to the ceiling.

The right hon. Gentleman has just said that the Government do not expect to find the £10 million within the ceiling. So the ceiling has gone—

I cannot let the right hon. Gentleman go on in this way about this. The argument about the ceiling and the introduction of the Bill, and all that, was decided before the Danckwerts award. Therefore, the objective this year was to keep below the £400 million ceiling. Then this award came along, which was on a far larger scale than anyone had anticipated, and the extent to which it will be falsified or it may be falsified we shall not know until after the end of the year. If it is we shall have to accept it. But that is no reason why our previous efforts to keep under the £400 million should be denigrated.

All I said was that on the last occasion—and all the right hon. Gentleman has now said, but I put it quite colloquially—was that the ceiling is "bust." That is all I am saying now. All the right hon. Gentleman has done is to put it in more circumlocutory language. The ceiling is gone. If there was any validity in that ceiling—and there never was—there is no justification for going on with this particular provision of the Bill in an effort to keep within the ceiling, which was the only argument of any relevance used by the right hon. Gentleman. That is gone.

The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head, but he will find that in a year's time, if he is still in office—and we hope that he will not be—he will find this coming back and hitting him in the face.

5.0 p.m.

We are now told that the right hon. Gentleman is to try hard to keep within the ceiling, knowing he will exceed it, but that because of the increased payment to general practitioners he is to collect payment for abdominal belts. That is a nice way to produce harmony inside the Health Service. Every time a person comes along for a truss, an abdominal belt or a special surgical boot or shoe, he will be made aware that the money is being collected from him to pay an additional £10 million a year to the general practitioners. That is a curious kind of conflict to create inside the Health Service. I can imagine no consideration likely to do more damage to the general climate inside the Service than a proposal of that sort.

It is all the worse because of the smallness of the sum involved. Hon. Members must keep in mind all the time that they are not really conferring power upon the Minister by this Clause only to impose charges on the four items mentioned, but on the whole range of appliances inside them; and even if the whole range is included, it amounts to only £4 million. It is to that extent that the Committee and the country should estimate the real emnity of the Tory Party to the free Health Service.

There is one consideration which I think the Committee and those hon. Members who support the Government ought to keep in mind. I was always very anxious to provide for appliances for civilians inside the Health Service on the scale required because of the important bearing it had on the creation and maintenance of certain special skills. When there is a great war and we have large numbers of wounded people a great strain is placed upon a small number of specialists and a small range of industries producing these appliances. For some time wounded ex-Service men suffer considerably while they are waiting for these appliances to come along and for them to be improved.

It always seemed to me to be one of the most exciting aspects of the National Health Service that the fact that the injured civilian population would be able to call upon this special range of skills would keep them in existence, not only doing good in the meantime for the civilian population but maintaining this skill and this narrow range of industries so that, in the lamentable event of another war, we should immediately have these skills in existence for injured soldiers, and easily expand them to the scale required. It therefore seemed to me to be a valuable and important part of the national economy that the pool should be maintained. The pool could only be maintained if the civilian population, injured in the same way as people are injured in battle, could have access to these special skills.

I assure hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite that that is a very important part, and one of the most civilised parts, of what might be called war preparation. In the past, they were dispersed. Indeed, as those of us who have experience of industrial communities know, some of our people had to put up with the most shocking appliances—the trusses I have seen some of our people wear, the monstrous stuff advertised in magazines and newspapers which they were encouraged to buy. Members in all parts of the Committee ought to regard this as most uncivilised behaviour for a most unworthy motive and for financial considerations which are not really substantial at all.

There is a further point. The right hon. Gentleman really based his case upon gossip. It is fantastic that the House of Commons should be reduced to, the level of a 19th century bakehouse. Because certain people have got a bitter attitude towards the Health Service, the right hon. Gentleman seeks the first available opportunity to harness it against the Service. We have had a lot of talk about wigs. The Tory papers have been making jokes about wigs for a long time. The right hon. Gentleman is the last person who ought to decry the value of wigs. No one can say that I have a vested interest in that matter. The provision of wigs in certain cases is a most important part of mental and physical recuperation.

If people have had serious operations the provision of wigs is a necessary part of the treatment. The same is true of some skin diseases and of some of the industrial diseases which result in the falling out of hair. It really is not good enough that serious Members of Parliament should allow their emotions and their decisions to be influenced by such stupid, silly, frivolous behaviour as that. Therefore, I seriously suggest to hon. Members opposite that they ought to have a look at this matter again.

The argument about borderline cases is silly. I have never heard such a thing. The right hon. Gentleman is losing his grip. What does he mean by a borderline case? It does not matter where one fixes the limit, there always will be a border. The Minister does not seem to think that some people fall one side of the border and other people fall the other side of the border. I have had letters from men and women complaining that they have been refused abdominal belts when they thought that they ought to have them and when the specialist in the hospital has said that, after careful consideration, he did not think that on medical grounds they ought to be provided. That happens normally.

What is this business about the borderline cases? The right hon. Gentleman ought to consider this matter again. I suggest to all hon. Members that to pursue this power much further will be understood by the country merely as an attempt to provide the widest range of excuses not for charges but for the destruction of the free Health Service.

I should like to ask the Minister whether he would postpone further consideration of this Clause until he has had the opportunity of making specific inquiries about the suggested abuses. I want to consider the four items for which he suggests that there should be a charge. I cannot imagine anybody wanting a wig just for the sake of having one. I cannot understand a specialist issuing directions for a wig to be provided to someone who does not need it. I cannot imagine that there can possibly be any abuses in relation to surgical boots and shoes. Nobody who does not really require them would think of asking a specialist to provide them.

Surgical boots and shoes are not very comfortable to wear, and only certain people with physical deformities have to wear them. It has been proved that people who have had to wear such appliances have been unable to have them repaired because of the high cost. They have carried on for long periods wearing surgical boots and shoes which have done more harm than good because they have not been kept in satisfactory repair.

It is very serious to suggest a charge of 10s. for elastic hosiery. It is possible—and I think it will happen—that some firms will take advantage of the situation. They will manufacture and provide at a cheaper rate than 10s. an inferior article of elastic hosiery, and, even if it is only to save 2s. or 3s., people who medically need elastic hosiery will purchase the inferior quality goods, to make that saving. Perhaps the Minister does not understand in how very many cases 2s. or 3s. is of great importance to the people who require these articles.

I cannot understand the Minister making any suggestion at all that there may be abuses by people wearing surgical or abdominal belts. They are not comfortable things to wear, and people do not wear them for fun, but because they are medically necessary. I do not think that the application of charges on the four items will bring into the Health Service anything like the £250,000 that the Minister has suggested, because there will be all sorts of things done, some of which will be referred to when we discuss the question of dental charges.

All sorts of things will happen outside the Service altogether, and it will open up the possibility of inferior goods being offered to people who need these articles for medical reasons so that they might save the amount of money which the Government are proposing to charge for them.

I have had a very long experience of hospital services, both of the old methods and the new methods under the National Health Service, and I am certain that the specialist service will very much resent the allegations of the Minister that there are abuses in the supply of surgical appliances of all sorts through the Health Service. I find from personal contact with one of the hospitals in Liverpool which supplies a very large number of surgical appliances, that the question of issuing surgical appliances is solely in the hands of the specialist service. The general practitioners have nothing to do with it, except that, perhaps, they recommend to the specialist service that these appliances may be necessary.

The specialist service alone is responsible for issuing the instructions about the supply of these appliances, and I know from practical experience that the most careful consideration and examination is given to all patients who go to hospital for the purpose of obtaining these surgical appliances. I can say, first, that there is no abuse at all, and, second, and most important, that the right type of surgical appliance of whatever kind is issued to the person who needs it.

Although the Minister has suggested that it is only in the case of these four items, the fact that a charge of £3 for surgical boots and shoes is to be made will have a very bad effect upon those who are compelled from physical deformity to wear these appliances. It is a very paltry charge, because it concerns wholly the people who are either born with physical disabilities or have a street accident or an accident in industry, and who require to use and wear surgical boots and shoes.

Then there is the question of the cost of repair. Where surgical boots or shoes are worn, it is very often the case that one foot uses the article much heavier than the other, and that, therefore, it constantly needs repair. In this case as well, the wearers cannot take the boot or shoe to an ordinary shoemaker for repair. The person concerned must get a certificate from the hospital or specialist declaring that the appliance requires repair, so that there can be no question of abuse there.

5.15 p.m.

I ask the Minister to say immediately, to save further discussion on the matter, that he will withdraw this Clause, at any rate, temporarily, until either tomorrow or after the Easter Recess, so that he may ask for evidence from the specialist staff of hospitals throughout the country as to the possibility of any abuses taking place in regard to these four items in respect of which he has suggested that a charge should be made.

I suggest that he should make his inquiries through the proper channel, and that he should not take notice of comments made on public platforms by members of his own party or of other parties which are against the Health Service. I ask him not to listen to that sort of allegation, but make inquiries himself. He has his own medical superintendents, medical officers and regional officers, who can give him all details concerning the use of the surgical appliances.

I am prepared to say to him now that, if he makes these inquiries, he will not be able to prove one instance throughout the whole country in which a specialist responsible for the examination of the patient and the issuing of these appliances will have been found to have abused in any way the issue of these articles, which are so desperately needed by people who suffer from these disabilities.

It has been one of the most important features of the Health Service that so many people who did without the things which they urgently needed in the old days, when private enterprise used to take advantage of the disabilities of people and charge them outrageous prices for surgical appliances—people who needed them on medical grounds—have been able to get them, when, formerly, they did without because they had not got the money to pay for them.

I am certain that if the Minister looks at this matter again—and I do hope he will—he will realise that he will not get the amount which he suggests, but that people who need these appliances will go for long periods without re-examination if anything goes wrong with their appliances, in order to obviate the possibility of being charged, either for repairs or renewal.

If the Minister obtains this information and takes time to look at it, I am sure he will find that the statements I am making are correct. I therefore hope that the Government will be prepared to withdraw these four items and allow the Service to return to the useful purpose of supplying these appliances to the people who need them on medical grounds.

We listened to the Minister with a great deal of interest when he categorically set forth those appliances for which he proposes to charge the public. What he said is all very well, as far as it goes, and it may be the Minister's intention to adhere to what he has told us this afternoon.

I would remind the Committee, however, that the Minister still retains within the Bill the power to impose these regulations whenever he thinks fit to come to the House to do so, and that what he has said in no way binds his successor. We, on this side of the Committee, have no idea how long the right hon. Gentleman will retain his present office, and we have only his word for what he has told us. Judging by the reactions of the public to the promises made by the other side of the Committee, I do not think that any of us can put any faith in what the Minister has told us today.

I make no apology for doing a little special pleading on behalf of two categories of people who, on the Minister's statement today, will not be charged for the appliances which they desire. They are the people who suffer from disabilities of sight and hearing.

I remember that when my right hon. Friend was conducting the original National Health Service Act through the Committee stage he told us what he proposed to do for the ophthalmic services. He said that one of the appliances he did not intend to give was an eyeglass. I intervened and asked that if he was not proposing to give an eyeglass, would he give a glass eye. He said that was a very pertinent question and that he would consider the point. It turned out, in the event, that that was one of the services rendered under the Service.

Even if the Minister is not prepared to withdraw the whole of the charges that he proposes, I would ask him to insert my Amendment, in page 1, line 9, at the end, to insert, "other than artificial eyes." No one wears an artificial eye because he wants to. It means that the person is either wholly blind or half blind, that there has been an excision of the eyeball and that the artificial eye is put there to help him in two ways. It has, first of all, a hygienic value which in many cases is supremely important and will, if the other eye is healthy, lead to its preservation. Then, of course, there is the aesthetic or psychological effect, and that no one can over-estimate. It gives a younger person who has lost an eye, particularly if that person is a young woman, a feeling of assurance.

When I was associated with the National Institute for the Blind during the war, we were able to give such people, through the provision of artificial eyes, a tremendous degree of assurance and courage to face the disability of blindness caused by air raids. They felt that, after all, they were not so disfigured as they thought they were. It gives such a person great assurance to know that he does not look so very different from the people around him.

The cost of an artificial eye is almost negligible. As far as I have been able to find out they are generally issued through the Ministry of Pensions. Between 7,000 and 8,000 artificial eyes are issued each year. Most of them today are plastic eyes. In the old days, when I first went in for this work, we used to call them glass eyes, as indeed they were. But the development of the plastic industry has inevitably put the emphasis on plastic eyes, which cost £2 as against £3 for the glass eye.

The total cost of issuing artificial eyes is about £16,000 a year, which is obviously a negligible amount. It is also a service which is tremendously important for children. One has only to go to the partially sighted and blind schools of the country to find out how highly valued these appliances are in connection with young people.

The other category of people about whom I wish to say a few words are the hard of hearing or the partially deaf. When my right hon. Friend was introducing the original Act, those of us who spend a great deal of our time with the deaf were very anxious to know what he was going to do for them. He gave them hearing aids which broke the terrific commercial ramp that had been going on in the manufacture of these appliances. I want to make it quite clear that I yield to no one in my admiration of those firms who in the past did extraordinarily good research work in this direction and maintained a high ethical standard in their salesmanship. But we know that there were many firms which fell far below such standards.

It was a great comfort to the deaf to know that the Minister had decided to give them an aid which would bring untold benefits and from which they would derive a sense of fulfilment such as no other service could render them. I happen to be the Vice-Chairman of the National Institute for the Deaf. For many years we conducted inquiries and found that there was a tremendous demand for aural aids. Despite the help given in the past through the voluntary hospitals to people in need of hearing aids, about 50 per cent. of such persons were unable to avail themselves of these instruments.

Gradually we broke down the resistance to wearing a hearing aid. At one time anyone who wore such an aid was almost a museum piece. I was at a meeting of deaf people last Saturday, sponsored by the British Association for the Hard of Hearing. It was a very representative meeting and I think that by now the Minister will have received a communication from its sponsors.

Before we knew precisely what the Minister's intentions were regarding the charge for appliances, it was rumoured that very considerable charges indeed were to be made for hearing aids. The immediate reaction of that body was most emphatic. It represents very wide ranges in the social structure. Some of the people represented by it have very considerable means, but the great mass of the people represented are ordinary working class men and women. The feeling was that in no circumstances should the advantages of a free issue of the Medresco hearing aid be lightly thrown away.

I want the Minister to safeguard the position. He has given us a verbal assurance that it is not his intention or that of the present Government to impose a charge for these aids. But we want these assurances put into the Bill, and I ask him to agree to the insertion of a specific proviso before we proceed to the next stage that both artificial eyes and hearing aids are to be excluded from the regulations.

The hon. Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Edward Evans) expressed alarm that the scope of the charges under this Clause should have been left to be defined by regulation. Accordingly, he devoted most of his speech to dealing with appliances upon which it is known that the Government do not intend to impose a charge. His argument would have had a great deal more force were it not for the fact that under the Act of 1949, which relates to charges for prescriptions and other articles obtainable through the pharmaceutical services exactly the same form of legislation had been adopted.

Section 16 of that Act says:
"Regulations may provide for the making and recovery, in such manner as may be prescribed, of such charges, in respect of such pharmaceutical services, as may be prescribed. …"
The whole matter was left as a blank cheque for the Minister to fill in by regulation. So, whatever objection may be urged against the procedure, it cannot be urged from that side of the Committee. Why, there was even no suggestion in the terms of that Act that the charge would be 1s. per subscription and not 2s. or 3s. There was no indication whether or not all the appliances available under the pharmaceutical services would be included. The whole matter was left absolutely vague.

5.30 p.m.

It so happens that under the terms of that Section as it was drawn, charges could have been imposed upon elastic hosiery—one of the items here concerned—for those are amongst the appliances provided under the pharmaceutical services. Therefore, the Committee in dealing with this Clause is under an obligation not to treat with the whole range of appliances but to apply its mind strictly to the four appliances specified by the Minister—

On a point of order. I remind you, Mr. Colegate, that when your predecessor was in the Chair he intimated to the Committee that although the debate was to be taken on the first Amendment to leave out the words "or appliances," he was proposing to allow those of us who have Amendments on the Order Paper to wander over the general field.

It might be for the convenience of the Committee, since some hon. Members have come in since the Chairman made his announcement, if I said that the Chair decided to take the first Amendment and after that, with the agreement of the Committee, it was decided to allow the next Amendments down to but not including the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Tottenham (Mr. Messer) on page 370 to be taken together, and a general debate allowed.

I am obliged to the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) for giving way and, judging from his previous speeches, I do not think he has any desire to mislead the Committee, but I think it will be as well if he said that the regulation from which he has just read refers only to pharmaceutical prescriptions.

It refers to "pharmaceutical services" and that covers not only drugs but also a limited range of appliances. That comes in Section 38 (1) of the 1949 Act, and it happens to include elastic hosiery.

I think the hon. Member will agree that this Clause mentions medicines and appliances, and the point we are trying to make is that we are separating the pharmaceutical prescriptions from the appliances which are so essential.

I am far from wishing to argue that the terms of the Section of the 1949 Act were the same as the present Clause. I was trying to argue that the House of Commons at that time did not object to the procedure that these charges should be allowed to be defined by regulation; nor was I at all criticising the Chair by suggesting that Amendments which it is perfectly in order to discuss happen to be absurd Amendments which my right hon. Friend should not accept.

The hon. Member has made some point of the question of whether the 1949 Act was drafted with reference to this matter, but has he not looked also at the 1951 Act, where we were dealing specifically with appliances, optical and dental? He will find that there exactly the opposite is the case to the one he has now made out. Does the hon. Member want the Committee to believe there is only one year—1949—in the calendar?

I am obliged, but I suggest to the Committee that there is a much closer analogy with the 1949 Act, which laid open the possibility of charges on a wide range of articles than with the 1951 Act, which imposed charges on two very limited specific types of appliances.

At any rate, I shall confine my observations to the narrow and relevant question of the four appliances upon which my right hon. Friend intends to impose charges—intends at present to impose charges—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—because regulations can be altered from time to time and there is every reason why it should be possible for the Minister by regulation to reduce or eliminate these charges altogether when that becomes possible. [HON. MEMBERS: "Or increase them."]

We have heard the remarkable argument in the course of the debate that because we are now aware that £10 million more will have to be spent upon the National Health Service in fulfilment of a public debt of honour, therefore there is no need at all for the economies and the charges which this Bill makes. We have been told that because £10 million more have to be found anyhow, there is no longer any need to restrain the tendency of the total cost of the Service to rise. That is an entirely fallacious argument to use.

I am within the recollection of the Committee. It has been suggested that because in this financial year more than £400 million have to be spent, it does not very much matter how much more.

The hon. Member is suggesting dishonesty now. I was arguing against the point made by the Minister of Health, that after the rewards to which the hon. Member referred had been made the reason for these charges remained the same reason as was in his mind when the Bill was introduced—that it was to try to keep the expenditure within the ceiling. The ceiling was the argument for the Bill.

The right hon. Gentleman in his speech pointed out quite rightly that the sum of £400 million in itself is a purely arbitrary figure which has no special logical cogency. We know now that the total cost of the Health Service in the coming year will be £400 million plus "X." But that, as I said before, increases the necessity for restraining the rise throughout the Service generally, and ensuring that where a rise does take place as in the hospital service, it is taking place in the parts of the Service which are most essential. Therefore, the need for saving here £250,000 which will be applied elsewhere is not only not less than it was before but is greater.

I will also deal with the fallacy of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) that whenever a person has to pay a charge under this Clause he is paying for the doctors. It might just as well be said he is paying for the nurses or for the beds in hospitals or for any other cost. The whole thing is a monstrous fallacy and paradox. If we have to find £10 million more, it is all the more necessary that we should see that the rises in the cost of the service elsewhere come in the most essential and unavoidable parts of the Service. That is exactly what my right hon. Friend is doing.

Because I think it was a very genuine point, I want to deal with the argument of the hon. Lady the Member for Liverpool, Exchange (Mrs. Braddock). She expressed the fear that the imposition of charges upon appliances would encourage patients to go and obtain quack appliances elsewhere. If that case could be made out it would be a very serious one.

I suggest that as these charges are planned and upon the information given to the House by my right hon. Friend on the Second Reading of the Bill, there is no real danger of that taking place. The charges which are going to be imposed do not exceed half the cost of the appliances alone, without any consideration of the cost of fitting and the other surrounding expenses. It is therefore in the highest degree unlikely that a quack appliance could be produced at less than the patient will have to pay under these regulations. I believe that that is an anxiety which the hon. Lady could leave out of her mind.

On this question of the quack appliances, is not the hon. Member aware of the declarations already made by the Minister of Health and the Parliamentary Secretary about the effects that have occurred in the ophthalmic service arising from the charges in the Bill last year?

Our Bill. The Parliamentary Secretary has already expressed concern about the enormous growth in sales of spectacles in the chain stores, directly arising from the charge.

I should hope that it would be generally agreed that there was very little prospect of providing appliances which any member of the public would regard as in any way comparable with those obtainable through the National Health Service at sums much less than half the cost to the Minister.

I start from the point on the Amendment which we are now discussing by saying that I am one of those people who believe that so long as there are wars we shall have sick and wounded men and so long as we have industry we shall have broken and bruised men, and it is our job, in this assembly, to pool our ideas to give all the help we can to those who have the misfortune to meet with accidents necessitating the use of appliances.

Last Thursday, during the Committee stage, we had two very important statements from back benchers opposite, to which I attach great importance. One came from the hon. Member for Abingdon (Sir R. Glyn), who appealed to the Committee to approach this question from a humanitarian standpoint and the other came from the hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Linstead), whose work on behalf of the National Health Service has always had my admiration. He has played a very important part in it, and he uttered last week a statement which impressed me, though he hardly went far enough.

He gave expression to these words:
"… we are in danger, in the Health Service in particular of forgetting one very fundamental thing. That is, that no State can take away from an individual the responsibility of his own health."
I agree with that. He went on:
"There is a very grave danger that in our desire to spread our social services in every quarter we will make that fundamental mistake. I think most of us take it for granted that the State is greatly concerned with the health of the individual and must of necessity be so; but the State may make a great mistake if it so emphasises the freedom and extent of its services as to take away from the individual man that sense of responsibility."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd April, 1952; Vol. 498, c. 1979.]
5.45 p.m.

We all agree that there is an individual responsibility resting upon each citizen to look after his own health; but having admitted that, at the same time a responsibility rests upon the State to care for the citizen who is overtaken by misfortune. Therefore, we are now applying our minds to the problem of securing something for those unfortunate people who have had the misfortune, in their industrial life, to be overtaken by accidents which eventually mean that they have to use appliances of so many kinds.

I am amazed that the right hon. Gentleman, charged with responsibility as he is, should bring this Measure before the House, because I recall that, when I was a miner, working in the pit, he occupied the responsible position of Secretary for Mines and he must know—he cannot put forward any claim that he is unaware of these things—that the incidence of accidents in the mine were such that he himself from time to time had to take the necessary steps to minimise those accidents.

Therefore, he must know that if he does not agree to some of the Amendments now on the Order Paper, he will rouse in the miners' fraternity the anger of a body of men who are playing their part in a way that is second to none. I issue this warning: there are many, many little irritants which are now showing themselves, and we in the mining fraternity are anxious to erase those irritants and to try to maintain the morale and the sense of responsibility of our men.

We want to keep that at the highest possible level in order that the productivity of the mining industry will be good and will improve. I know something of the psychology of the miner. There is nothing which disturbs him more than to think that someone, somewhere, in some way is trying to put a "fast one" across him.

I have every sympathy with those who have, unfortunately, been injured in the pit. I have spent a great deal of my time on the industrial side of the industry, and the argument which the right hon. Gentleman is advancing about abuses does not cut any ice at all. I have never, in my long experience known men to make application for an abdominal belt or a truss, or anything else they required to support them, for the sake of making an application. It was always my greatest difficulty to persuade them to wear them. In some cases they were an encumbrance to men when they were working in the pit.

But the right hon. Gentleman comes forward with an argument that he is doing this because of certain abuses that have been discovered. Discovered from whom? Who is giving him the information? From what source does it come? I venture to suggest that if he had a close investigation he would find that those people who are giving him that information do not know the full facts in the minefields. The argument that he is putting forward to support these charges does not hold water.

Another point which he put forward was that such a small amount was involved. If the amount that he is going to recover from the policy which he is now advocating is so small, why pursue it at all? I suggest that he will be well advised if he takes this Clause back and between now and the Report stage cuts out the word "appliances." That is a great irritant and, if I may say so—and I weigh very carefully the words I am using—if he does not it will have a great deterrent effect upon those men working in the mining industry.

We have already conclusive evidence that they are very much opposed to the cuts that have been applied by the Government, and they are very much opposed to the inroads made on the National Health Service. Therefore, I beg the right hon. Gentleman to listen to the appeals of hon. Members on this side of the Committee; men who have had experience and know something of what it means to the men in the pit who are unfortunately overtaken by an accident.

I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman has ever visualised, when he is talking about making a charge for appliances, what it means to these men who have to buy not only one appliance or even two appliances, but three. Many of the men working in the industry, who have had the misfortune to suffer hernia, have to wear three trusses—not three at once but, because they cannot get admission to hospital to undergo the necessary operation, they have to wear a truss at the pit and another when they get home and they have one being repaired.

Is the right hon. Gentleman, and are the party opposite, really suggesting that there should be a charge for that type of appliance? They never made a greater mistake in their lives if they think the men in the mining industry will sit down under that imposition. I am very anxious to avoid any upheaval in the industry—and I am not using this as a threat: but they will not keep our men down if the men see that some of their injured comrades are being unfairly treated by the Government.

I can speak from personal experience here. It may be that I am the only hon. Member—I hope I am—who has to wear an abdominal belt as the result of an accident in the pit. When that abdominal belt has to be renewed, I am in the position of being able to pay for it, and therefore I do not trouble anybody; but that is no reason on earth why I should sit idly by and not defend those men who cannot afford to buy their abdominal belts.

After all, we must remember that when they want these belts or trusses, their income is at the lowest possible level because they are in receipt of compensation. The belt which I wear at present cost £4 18s. 6d. How far do hon. Members think that men will be satisfied with the attitude of the right hon. Gentleman and the party opposite when he finds that, out of his 45s. a week compensation, he has to pay £4 18s. 6d. for a belt which he requires—and he requires it not because he neglected his body but because he had the misfortune to sustain an accident in the pit when producing the coal which is so necessary for the nation's prosperity.

I put that aspect to the right hon. Gentleman, and I hope he will respond to the appeals which have been made from these benches. We do not want to make party capital out of this. Please do not misunderstand us. The matter is of such serious dimensions that a man would be wrong if he tried to make party capital out of an injured workman. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will face these facts.

There is another aspect I want to put before the Minister. Since the passing of the Act which gave so many of these benefits to our people, it has been my lot to come into contact with many men who have had the misfortune to suffer from accidents, and they have paid a great tribute to the Act of Parliament, to the great assistance they have received and to the great benefits which were introduced. It will be a sorry day if the right hon. Gentleman pursues the pathway upon which he has entered and, by so doing, upsets these men.

A few years ago, there was a time in the mining industry when we had to take collections in order to buy appliances for our injured comrades. When we discovered that, we advocated the setting up of benevolent societies. Those did not exist for many years. We set up the permanent relief society, from which society we used to derive the benefits which came to us in the 1948 Act. Surely we are not going back to those bad days.

Here the State has an opportunity of recognising the work of those men who are engaged in industry. The State has an opportunity of saying to the nation at large and to the men in industry, "You are playing your part, you have done your whack; and because you are playing your part and because you have done your whack, we are prepared to come to your assistance if you sustain an accident." Will the right hon. Gentleman take this Clause back and consider it between now and Report stage, and bring forward something more reasonable, something which contains a little more justice and a little more honesty and a desire to help the unfortunate men who have been injured in industry?

I think the Minister must be well aware by now that there is not one hon. Member on this side of the House who was pleased with his intervention, or who agrees with what he said. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell), made a simple plea that we should be discussing today only those four types of appliance upon which the Minister says he will impose a charge. We are not at all sure of that.

We find that these charges are expected to bring in £250,000. I think that hon. Members on this side of the House have already shown the drastic effects which these charges will have and the very little saving there will be to the Treasury, and we are afraid that if the word "appliances" is left in the Bill, then at some time, and probably sooner rather than later, there will be an extension from the four appliances which the Minister mentioned to others. That is why I am glad that my hon. Friends have dealt, in particular, with their own Amendments.

I want to discuss one of the appliances upon which a charge is to be made—abdominal supports. Quite a number of hon. Members have already shown to the Minister the effect which this charge will have on industrial workers. I represent a big mining area, and I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Ince (Mr. T. Brown) about how grateful these men were for the benefits which they receive under the National Health Service Act. These benefits made it possible for many miners, for the first time in many years, to get out amongst their friends in the streets and even to go occasionally to a football match.

When these charges were proposed, and the announcement about them appeared in the Press, I received a letter from a miner informing me that he needed not just one surgical appliance in order to get outside the door, but five surgical appliances of different kinds—and he had to wear them all at the same time. That man broke his back in the pit, and until 1948 he was unable to leave his home. But because of the help of these surgical appliances and because of the motor-propelled chair which he received under our Act, life became a much brighter and happier thing for him, in spite of his broken back.

It seems to me one of the meanest things which the present Government have done to tell these men that we intend to charge them £1. Remember, most of the men who need these abdominal supports are men who are not in work. Some of them are men who hope, when they get them, that they will be able to go to work. Many of them are men who will never be able to work again.

6.0 p.m.

If we consider the women who require abdominal supports, we find that many of them are mothers. Many of them are mothers who, before 1948, were not able to get surgical belts—or abdominal supports, as the Minister calls them. Many of them today are suffering because for years before 1948 they just could not afford these abdominal supports. These mothers now are not only going to pay charges for abdominal supports but they are also going to have to pay the 1s. subscription for medicines.

I myself worked in one of the poorest districts of Glasgow. There I found that, though their husbands were covered as panel patients, the mothers and their children were not. The mother, time and time again, put off going to the doctor, or calling in the doctor, first, because she could not pay his charge, and second, because she could not afford to pay for the medicine he would prescribe. Here, in this miserable Bill, the mother is going to have to pay both for medicines and for abdominal belts.

The truth of the matter is that many of the women will be back in the position they were in before 1948: they just will not go to the doctor in the first instance; or, if a doctor is called in, and suggests that a woman should go for specialist attention, she will just say, "No. Possibly it would mean an abdominal belt, and, in my present circumstances, I just cannot afford £1."

That is a shocking thing to happen in this country in 1952, and it is a shocking thing to think that it will happen because the present Government wish to save this miserable £250,000 out of this Service. I would make a particular plea to the hon. Lady that at least these appliances, these abdominal belts, as they affect the industrial workers and as they affect the mothers, shall be taken out of the range of charges.

The Minister gave us no satisfaction at all. Indeed, I felt he was most uncomfortable at the repeated interventions from this side. What were his words? He said he had been "informed" and that he had been "advised" that there had been abuses in this particular matter of abdominal belts. He would not tell us, however, who had informed or who had advised him.

He went on to say that pressure had been brought to bear on the specialists to give abdominal belts to women. What an indictment that is of our specialists in our hospital services. I feel that it is such an indictment and such an insult that the hon. Lady or her right hon. Friend should forthwith withdraw that indictment and insult against our specialists.

I come next to this charge for surgical boots. We are told that the patient, man or woman, will be able to get surgical boots for a payment of £3. Some people say that that is not much more than a man or woman pays for his or her ordinary boots or shoes. However, there are many men and women today who are buying the cheapest boots or the cheapest shoes, and they are something under £3. Another point that the Minister ought to keep in mind is that the man or woman who needs surgical boots wears them out much more quickly than a man or woman wears out ordinary boots, and for that reason again the Minister ought to have second thoughts on this matter.

On the question of charges for elastic hosiery, I am glad that my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Exchange (Mrs. Braddock) made the point that she did make. There are many women who need these surgical stockings or elastic stockings. They need them for different reasons. It would be a great tragedy indeed if pregnant mothers in this country—and many women need these stockings at that time if not at another time—found it impossible to get them. A charge of 5s. or 10s. is a very heavy one for the mothers, but it is a miserably small amount of money to the Minister.

However we look at these charges, whether at their effect on our people—the tragic effect in some circumstances—or from the point of view of the amount of money that the Treasury is going to get—that miserably small amount of money—it makes one wonder why the Minister ever thought of these charges. I would say that these charges are hitting below the belt. I would say to hon. Members who are, perhaps, not so interested in boxing but who have attended public schools—I would say to them in their own language—that they must really, in their hearts, believe that these charges are just not cricket.

After the eloquent speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Ince (Mr. T. Brown), who has wide experience of the mining industry, and his comprehension of the human tragedy involved, the Minister should forthwith withdraw this Bill. At the very least he should take the path of moral rectitude by making it clear in the Bill that most of the appliances that injured miners need are totally excluded from the proposed payments. We are told that only four items are to be the subject of charges, and that the charges for those four will yield a sum of some £250,000. I should be interested if the Parliamentary Secretary would tell us, when she replies to the debate, what amount will be yielded by each of the four categories, surgical boots, abdominal belts, elastic hosiery, and wigs. I am sure that other hon. Members will also be interested to know how the total amount is divided.

We have had from the other side of the Committee a good deal of abstract argument. I was pleased that a recent speaker on this side of the Committee sought to clothe the abstract argument with the flesh and blood of reality and human tragedy which lie behind these charges for appliances. I shall not deal with the problem of the injured miners, because my hon. Friends the Members for Rhondda, West (Mr. Iorwerth Thomas) and for Ince have already dealt with that point, but in my constituency I have a man who needs surgical boots. I had to intervene with the Minister to get a satisfactory surgical boot made for him, so the Minister will be aware of the case.

This man also suffers from recurrent diseases, asthma and eczema. This Bill imposes charges for the prescription of drugs and medicines to relieve his eczema and asthma. From the age of five, this constituent of mine has had infantile paralysis in his right leg up to the hip. He needs surgical boots. He is a man of courage, character and some intellectual stature. He works at the Remploy Factory for seriously disabled men in my constituency. His total earnings in a full week are about £5 1s., out of which he has to meet some part of the 7s. 8d. for fares from Maesteg to Bridgend. This man, suffering, as I say, from asthma and eczema, being subject to charges for prescriptions, is now to be called upon to pay £3 for his surgical boots.

Incidentally, I should like to know from the Parliamentary Secretary what will happen in cases similar to the one I have in mind where surgical boots are made and fitted, but prove to be unsuitable so that further examinations and fittings are necessary and new surgical boots are required. Will the patient be required to pay £3 on each occasion, or will one payment suffice?

In addition, the man to whom I refer will be required to pay between 8s. and 13s. 6d. every time the boots need repair, and since, as a rule, surgical boots wear out more quickly than those which most of us use, a very real hardship will be imposed upon this man. We are entitled to know why this man and others like him are being singled out for this attack.

We have heard from hon. Members opposite that, in general, these charges are necessitated because there is abuse, but so far no hon. or right hon. Gentleman opposite has had the brass-faced impudence to claim that men and women who wear surgical boots are abusing the Health Service. What, then, is the reason for the imposition of these grave hardships on my constituent and other unfortunate men and women like him? The only case that has been put from the other side was contained in the speech of the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland when he wound up the Second Reading debate, and I propose briefly to refer to the point he made on that occasion. He said:
"The first of these is the argument that these charges have no relation whatsoever to our general economic difficulty, and, in particular, to our balance of payments. Every hon. Member must know that our basic problem today is to stimulate our export trade, and that they must appreciate that any reduction of home demand is bound to be a factor operating in the right direction. That is no less true if the resources set free by any particular reduction in demand do not themselves contribute directly to our exports. We have to look at the economy of the nation as a whole."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th March, 1952; Vol. 498, c. 1022.]
That was the defence put up for these charges, so to solve the economic crisis my constituent, with eczema and asthma, pays the "bob" prescription when he goes to the doctor for drugs and medicines, he than pays £3 for his surgical boots necessitated by infantile paralysis, and finally, he pays his 8s. to 13s. 6d. every time the surgical boots need repair.

I know something about cases of this kind. If this man is also getting the treatment which up-to-date specialists recommend, he should also be having short-wave therapy. In that case, will he have to pay for that?

6.15 p.m.

I will not follow my hon. Friend on that line of argument.

What I say is that, if Britain has a serious overseas trade crisis, and if the best argument that can be advanced for these charges is the one advanced by the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, then we are placing the burden of Britain's economic difficulties on the least fortunate—the crippled as well as the sick and the infirm. I appeal to the Minister and to his Parliamentary Secretary: Is there no sense of human decency, no sense of moral values left, so that at a time when those fortunate enough to have incomes of £2,000 a year and above are being made a present of £50 a year or more by the Budget in tax remissions, the crippled must be called upon to bear the burden of our overseas trade crisis? I am confident that if there are consciences to be stirred on the other side of the Committee, then not only will this Amendment be accepted but the Bill will be withdrawn.

We on this side of the Committee would want to argue the points put by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell), when he argued that there was no danger of there being any cheap quack substitutes used for appliances that in the past have been obtained free under the Service.

I and others on these benches have had some experience in the Ministry of Pensions of the type of quack appliances, of one sort and another, that were being used until patients were able to get the use of the National Health Service and obtain free appliances of all kinds of real value and real quality. I know the shock of horror that it was to many of us, and to many of the officials concerned with this matter, when we had coming in to the centres of the Ministry of Pensions the National Health Service cases with their wretched bits of wood and peg legs, and all their other bits of appliances of shockingly bad character, for which no doubt comparatively small payments had been made, but which were utterly useless to meet their needs. Yet that was all either they could afford or that their societies were able to provide for them in the past.

I am sorry that the hon. Member is not here at the moment, because I must say it is utterly untrue to suggest that it is impossible for quack substitutes to be provided at half or less the cost. They no doubt will be. They will be of little value, but they will be all these people will be able to get.

This is a shockingly retrograde step to take, and I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will at any rate say that she will think about this matter again. After all, what is involved in financial terms? We are told that all the Ministry want to save is this sum of £250,000. If we are to believe what we are told and this is the total sum they have in mind, is it really necessary to impose all the difficulties and restraints on both the individuals concerned and the staffs who will be concerned with the collection of these wretched sums of money, in the hospitals and elsewhere? I have a cutting from the "Municipal Journal" which discusses these charges for appliances, and one thing it says is this:
"The costs of collection are likely to be fairly high unless the Ministry forces almoners to relinquish some of their socio-medical work. If each of the 377 management committees appoints one clerk, the collection costs could easily be about £100,000 per annum."
Are not we reaching the height of absurdity if there is any danger of any sum remotely comparable to that figure of £100,000 being expended to save the Government some £250,000? Is not that a ridiculous position for the Committee to be put into?

We have all been very glad that the almoners in the hospitals during the last few years have been taken away from some of the wretched financial collection work which they had to do in the past and have been able to undertake the very valuable social work they are doing today. I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to say whether the almoners are now to be forced back into their monetary collections, or are they going to appoint new staff to do this work. This is an important point to which we are entitled to some reply from the hon. Lady.

Assuming, as was said earlier, that it has been left to the hospital management committees to decide in what way they are going to carry out this work, surely it is not satisfactory for the Committee to be told that no decision has yet been made as to how the work is to be done. How are we to decide whether this is a reasonable proposal, unless we know something about the way in which the collection work is to be carried out, and what waste is to be imposed on the service to enable these comparatively trifling sums to be collected?

I suggest that is a matter which the hon. Lady and her right hon. Friend ought to consider again. They are imposing upon themselves wholly unnecessary trouble. If they want to ensure that these matters are considered more speedily by this Committee, then here is their opportunity to give some indication to the Committee that they are prepared at least to reconsider some of the matters we have been putting before them this afternoon and during previous consideration of the Bill.

I believe it to be true that so far we have not had one single concession or suggestion of any concession. Here is an opportunity, when the hon. Lady comes to reply, to say that she is prepared to take this back and give it further consideration before the Report stage. That, I am sure, would be welcomed by both sides of the Committee.

Do not let us be taken in by the suggestion made by the Minister that the Government are going to impose charges on only some four items. If they believe that, why do not they make that provision in the Bill? At least, we were careful in the Bill we introduced last year to see that the charges were made to alight on specific points. Now, all that we are asking is that they should do the same; they should at least ensure that these vital appliances for which they say they have no intention of charging at the present time are specifically excluded from the Bill. Surely, we are not asking for anything unreasonable to be conceded. If they do not concede this, it makes it perfectly clear that they have every intention of imposing charges in the rest of the field in a matter of a few months, if not almost immediately.

The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head. That apparently means that he has no intention of imposing further charges. All we say is: put that in the Bill. If the right hon. Gentleman would agree to intervene to say he will do that now, it might speed up the proceedings. I am very willing to give way to him if he is prepared to say so now. Apparently he is not willing.

We can take it on this side of the Committee therefore that although the Government are trying to get an easier passage of the Bill by saying they are imposing charges on only four items, they have every intention of imposing charges on the whole field before very long. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Then, let the Minister make provision in the Bill. There is nothing to prevent him from doing so and following our good example last year by making specific provisions for just those items he intends to charge for. Otherwise, it is perfectly clear that concern on this side of the Committee will be greatly increased and also concern in the country.

When I spoke on a previous Amendment, I said that the Government were faced with a real and serious problem—the rising cost of the drugs and medicine being poured down British throats—and that the Government had selected the wrong and a very cruel remedy of stemming that rising cost. Now, when we come to consider these charges for appliances, we find the Government ruthlessly inflicting hurt to solve a problem which exists only in the fantasy of their own minds.

The Minister stated during the debate on the Second Reading of this Bill that
"when the Government were seeing whether any savings could be made in the Health Service the considerations they had constantly in mind were:"—
and I would like the Committee to note that this is the first one—
"are there any obvious abuses to be rectified?"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th March, 1952; Vol. 498, c. 845.]
Every hon. Member wants to stop abuses in the Health Service. Every hon. and right hon. Member knows that it is his duty to prevent the misuse of public money. But there has been no abuse in the issue of surgical appliances.

Does the Minister of Health claim that surgical boots have been given to people other than cripples? Does he claim that artificial limbs have been provided for people who are fully four-limbed? It was possible from the very start of the Health Service for the Government to make provisions to prevent the abuse of appliances by insisting that no patient should be issued with an appliance until that patient had received a recommendation from his or her own doctor and had been seen and undergone a second and more thorough examination by a specialist; and only after that second examination by a specialist and on the orders of a specialist should a surgical appliance be obtained.

I know that the Minister thinks that there has been abuse in the issue of abdominal supports because he stated on the Second Reading of the Bill, when speaking of these charges:
"The second group is surgical abdominal supports, and we propose a charge of £1 each on them. The right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) probably knows that there have been a good many cases of alleged abuse reported, of prescribing what was not much more than a reinforced corset."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th March, 1952; Vol. 498, c. 850.]
I think that the Minister of Health must have realised that the allegation was groundless, otherwise he would not have held out the hand of appeal to my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan).

I should like to tell the Committee of a case which came my way recently and which concerned a constituent of mine. This was a woman who, I admit at the outset, would have had her figure improved if she had been provided with surgical corsets. She was of the opinion that she should wear surgical corsets and she persuaded her doctor to give her a note of recommendation to take to a hospital where she could be examined by a specialist. The specialist examined her and, finding no surgical abnormality, refused to provide her with the abdominal support.

6.30 p.m.

The woman went back to her own doctor, complained of the treatment that she had received at the hospital, and prevailed upon him to give her a letter to allow her to go to another hospital and be seen by a different specialist. The second specialist examined her and again found no surgical abnormality and refused to order the abdominal support for her. It was after that that she came to see me. She told me what she thought about specialists at hospitals. I had, of course, to tell her that I could not help her.

I have told the Committee of that case to give an illustration of the conscientious manner in which specialists are carrying out their work. The statement which the Minister of Health made during the Second Reading debate casts a very serious reflection upon the integrity of our specialists.

The Minister has given us the list of the appliances upon which these charges will fall. He mentioned surgical boots. This is an attack on cripples. He also mentioned the charges which will have to be paid for the repair of surgical boots, and he specifically mentioned the charges that will have to be paid by crippled women. When we look at the next charge, which is on surgical abdominal supports, and the following one, elastic hosiery, we find that they will fall mostly upon women who have borne children, who, of all people, ought to be honoured, respected and protected. The fourth item was wigs. This is a blow delivered at people who suffer the embarrassment of having a completely hairless head.

So we find that these iniquitous charges are being levied largely on women and cripples. I appeal to the Minister of Health, in the name of chivalry, to withdraw these charges and accept our Amendment. We have been told that the estimated saving on the four selected items will be £250,000. That is, the Government are hoping that £250,000 will be saved within the annual expenditure of £400 million on the National Health Service. To save 1/1,600th part of the National Health Service expenditure, mothers and cripples have been selected to take the kicks when a Tory Government ruthlessly imposes its wrecking measures upon the Service.

That is not all. I have briefly mentioned only the specific items which are already on the lists for a charge. What of the other possibilities? The Minister has said that he does not propose to touch artificial legs or arms and that hearing aids are to be exempted. I trust the right hon. Gentleman to keep his word, but we know perfectly well that he is not going to be the Minister of Health very much longer, and, as the Bill now stands, any successor of his could merely by means of regulations, impose a charge on any appliance at any time.

The Government are seeking powers which the Opposition can only regard as extremely dangerous. Only five months ago the Chairman of the Conservative Party promised that food subsidies would not be cut and yet, in the Tory Budget, subsidies are slashed by £160 million. So voluminous is the catalogue of shattered Tory promises that the Opposition cannot accept their word. The Bill must be altered and it will be altered. It will be altered either now or in the very near future, when we have the next Labour Government.

Perhaps it would be for the convenience of the Committee if I answered one or two of the points that have been raised and tried to clear up some misapprehensions. I must remind the Committee that what we are discussing—however far we may wander from it—is whether or not appliances should come within the scope of the Bill and whether the word "appliance" should or should not remain in the Clause. That is the important point.

I repeat what I have already said, that all that will be concerned in the regulations which the Government envisage are charges on the four items, surgical boots and repairs, abdominal supports, elastic hosiery and wigs. Those are the only four which we have in mind.

At present, of course, because there are regulatory powers and we are not putting the specific charges in the Bill. We are following the precedent of the previous Act.

No, it is the Act of 1949. [Interruption.] If hon. Gentlemen do not want to hear what I have to say and keep on interrupting me, I shall not say it, but I was only trying to help and clear up some of the difficulties which have arisen during the debate.

The hon. Member for Ince (Mr. I. Brown), who made such an eloquent speech, as he always does on behalf of the mining industry, of which he has been an adornment so long, was rather under a misapprehension. He and others have not appreciated what I said when I pointed out that the charge which we had in mind for abdominal supports was £1. That is a charge and not a percentage. Therefore, in the case of the belt such as the one costing over £4 to which he referred there is no question of anything more than £1 being charged.

In the same way, it is not suggested in anything that I have said or that the Government have in mind that a charge should be made for lumbar belts, trusses or spinal supports, though I understand that if a truss was ordered as a result of a medical prescription the ordinary 1s. precription charge would apply. That does not come under these provisions, and I merely mention it so that hon. Gentlemen will not some day say I did not say anything about it. If a truss were on a general practitioner's prescription it would be a prescription within the meaning of the regulations under the previous Act, but that has nothing to do with the provisions here. Therefore, none of those come within the regulations which I have in mind.

The hon. Member for Ogmore (Mr. Padley) made a very impassioned speech in which he described a sad case where a pair of boots had been made for a patient and did not fit. May I say to him that there is no intention, in the regulations for which I shall be responsible of making any charge if it is necessary to replace an appliance because of a defect in the appliance or solely because of a change in the patient's condition. If the boots were wrong he would have to pay for the first pair, but would not pay for the new pair or even the pair after that, if a third pair had to be made to remedy the defect. I hope that that clears up that particular misapprehension.

The hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Blenkinsop), spoke of the dangers that might arise from quack remedies as a result of this and the resulting ill-health which would follow. I find it very hard to believe that within the sphere about which I am talking, namely, surgical boots, abdominal supports, elastic hosiery and wigs, any serious quackery can come about.

The right hon. Gentleman must accept the point that, in spite of what he says, he can bring in an Order at any time he likes as soon as this Bill passes making other charges and the House will have no opportunity of stopping it. On any appliance he likes he can put a charge.

The power remains vested in the House under Clause 6 (7), because the power to make regulations conferred by this Bill will be exercisable by Statutory Instrument, and the last word, of course, remains with this House and not with me or with the Government at all.

The other point made by the hon. Member was that the administrative costs might be as much as £100,000 a year. That is too exaggerated for words, because we are only dealing with the part of the Clause which is concerned with appliances and we are only proposing to put a charge on four classes of appliance. It is hard to imagine—I am sure that the hon. Member does not, in fact, imagine it—how the administrative costs are to come to anything like that for these appliances. The administrative costs of collecting the charge would be absolutely minute.

The hospitals do say so. We should stick to the appliances which this Amendment talks about.

The right hon. Gentleman very kindly gave us a fair warning when speaking about trusses and their prescription. He said that if they were on a prescription form and were taken to a chemist or the orthopaedic branch of a chemist, they would be subject to a 1s. charge if the certificate were that of a general practitioner. Will he clear that point up a little further? Does that mean that if they are prescribed in a hospital there is no charge? If it is a prescription on E.C.10 and is taken to a chemist to fix the truss there would be a 1s. charge, and if that is so it raises my last point. There is a printed form which the doctor must sign and which says, "In my view this patient is suffering from so and so and needs a truss." That is not an E.C.10 but will there be a 1s. charge on that or not?

All that shows how foolish it is to stray out of the rules of order, because that has nothing to do with this particular point. I have merely safeguarded myself for the future, and I really cannot follow the hon. Gentleman into all these intricacies of different forms. I am sure he will absolve me from wanting to do so. The issue is only 1s. either way.

6.45 p.m.

The point I want to raise has something to do with that with which he is dealing. The Minister has said that the hospitals have stated quite definitely that this will not entail great expenditure. Since he has that assurance from the hospital, will he also tell us who in the hospitals is to do the work? Is it the almoner or who is it?

That is still being discussed.

We are dealing with appliances and I will not go back over the very large field of prescriptions, particularly as there are only four types of appliance in question. The number of these which would be disposed of in any given hospital is such a small figure that—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Despite what hon. Members say, the number of surgical boots, abdominal supports, elastic hosiery and wigs which are given in the hospitals is so small that it would not entail a great amount of administrative expenditure. I know that one chairman of a regional hospital board agrees with me. That is the information I have; that is what the hospitals tell me. I think that covers all the points which have been raised in the debate since I first spoke.

Could the right hon. Gentleman give us the number of these appliances which have been supplied in these hospitals in any one 12 months since the Health Service came into operation? The right hon. Gentleman keeps referring to the fact that the number is very small, and I think we are entitled to be told the actual number.

But that is the way to get the figures circulated. If I merely give the information to the hon. Lady it will not be circulated to such an extent. Anyway, this is not the kind of information which can be available in five minutes.

I have some common sense, I hope.

I would again remind the Committee of what the Amendment does. It decides once and for all whether appliances should or should not remain within the ambit of this Clause. I would remind hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who may not have been here during the whole of the debate on this Amendment that this Bill is not in itself imposing any charges. What it is doing is giving power for charges to be imposed in the hospital field in exactly the same way as the first Act carried by the Labour Government gave power to impose prescription charges.

I have, mysteriously, got some information which, I hope, will help the hon. Lady the Member for Liverpool, Exchange (Mrs. Braddock). I am told that there are about 800 appliances a day over the whole of the country.

That is all. It is not much in relation to every hospital in the country. If it was 800 in the Liverpool hospital, in which the hon. Lady is so interested and where she does such good work, that would be one thing, but it is 800 for all the hospitals in the country. Obviously, the administrative work involved in this matter cannot be very great. We have spent a good deal of time on this problem, and I hope the Committee will find it reasonable now to come to a decision on this matter and pass to the next Amendment, because we have still quite a long way to go.

On a point of order. I suppose that the Patronage Secretary is about to move the Closure, but before he does so may I, with great and genuine respect for the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Kelvingrove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot) ask whether we are allowed to bring an attache case into the Chamber as the right hon. and gallant Gentleman has done. I have no doubt that it was done to accommodate him, but I should like to ask whether it would not be better to conform to the customs of the House in this matter.

The recent speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health has added nothing to what he said in reply to myself when I moved this Amendment some time ago He has listened to eloquent pleas from my hon. Friends, particularly from—

On a point of order. I was once prevented from bringing into the House an attaché case. The offence is more serious in that the right hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot) has been out of the Committee for some time and has left his case lying on the bench. We do not know what it contains. The rule against attaché cases was brought in during the Irish days, because of the likelihood of dangerous weapons being brought into the Chamber.

Further to the point of order. Do you realise, Mr. Hopkin Morris, that my hon. Friends are calling attention to the fact that the right hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot) has a case in the Chamber?

That is not a matter for me. It is not within the jurisdiction of the Chair.

May I remind you, Mr. Hopkin Morris, that during the last Parliament there was an occasion when, by the direction of Mr. Speaker, a Member was compelled to take a case out of the House? We are asking you to make the same rule applicable to the right hon. and gallant Member that applied in the last Parliament under the direction of Mr. Speaker.

Surely it will be within your recollection, Mr. Hopkin Morris, as it is within mine, that on many occasions Members have been forbidden to have newspapers to read in the House of Commons. Surely if a newspaper is out of order an attaché case is also out of order.

I have here the Parliamentary debates for 1948–49. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I am giving a catalogue of the contents of the case. I have HANSARD for 21st March and 27th March; the Report of the Department of Health for Scotland, which will be very useful; the Minutes of the proceedings on the Committee stage of the National Service Amendment Bill, which were ordered by the House of Commons to be printed on 6th July, 1949. I have yet to learn that any of these documents is in any way dangerous.

I am in possession of the Committee. [HON. MEMBERS: "And of the case."] If the sensitive natures of hon. Members are in any way disturbed by any of these things I am prepared to leave the documents in the Committee here, and to remove the offending case.

We look forward to the participation of the right hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot), in the debate when the next Amendment is moved, fortified by the ammunition which he has thought fit to bring into the Chamber.

I wanted to put on record the fact that the Minister of Health, having listened to such eloquent speeches as those of my hon. Friend the Member for Ince (Mr. T. Brown), and to well-informed and cogently argued speeches, with great professional expertise, such as my hon. Friend the Member for Batley and Morley (Dr. Broughton) has made, has come no way whatsoever to meet us. He has not offered a single concession of any kind in his speech and he has entirely failed, though he has had hours in the meantime to gather it, to present any evidence whatsoever in support of his allegation that there has been an abuse of the consultant and hospital services in the supply of these appliances.

I assure him, as I know from personal knowledge when Minister of Pensions, that a close review was made of the types of appliance which were being prescribed. It was done particularly for the purpose of ensuring that no appliances which might be embellishments rather than surgical aids were going through the Ministry of Pensions' supply department to the hospitals. The right hon. Gentleman seems to have made no attempt to support that allegation by proof, though he has had time to do so.

He has repeated the threat that lies behind this legislation, because he said that it is his intention to make these charges only, at present. It is because we find that reply completely unsatisfactory and because we are determined to

Division No. 66.]


6.58 p.m.

Aitken, W. T.Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)
Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)Cranborne, ViscountHill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)
Alport, C. J. M.Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.Hinchingbrooke, Viscount
Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.Hirst, Geoffrey
Amory, Heathcoat (Tiverton)Crouch, R. F.Holland-Martin, C. J.
Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J.Crowder, John E. (Finchley)Hollis, M. C.
Arbuthnot, JohnCrowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)Holmes, Sir Stanley (Harwich)
Ashton, H. (Chelmsford)Cuthbert, W. N.Hope, Lord John
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)Hopkinson, Henry
Astor, Hon. J. J. (Plymouth, Sutton)Davidson, ViscountessHornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.
Baker, P. A. D.Deedes, W. F.Horobin, I. M.
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.Digby, S. WingfieldHoward, Greville (St. Ives)
Baldwin, A. E.Dodds-Parker, A. D.Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)
Banks, Col. C.Donaldson, Comdr. C. E. McA.Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)
Barber, A. P. L.Donner, P. W.Hulbert, Wing Cmdr. N. J.
Barlow, Sir JohnDoughty, C. J. A.Hurd, A. R.
Baxter, A. B.Dugdale, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond)Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)
Beach, Maj. HicksDuncan, Capt. J. A. L.Hutchison, James (Scotstoun)
Beamish, Maj. TuftonDuthie, W. S.Hyde, Lt.-Col, H. M.
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)Eccles, Rt. Hon. D. M.Hylton-Foster, H. B. H.
Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.Jenkins, R. C. D. (Dulwich)
Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)Erroll, F. J.Jennings, R.
Bennett, Sir Peter (Edgbaston)Fell, A.Johnson, Eric (Blackley)
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)Finlay, GraemeJohnson, Howard (Kemptown)
Bennett, William (Woodside)Fisher, NigelJoynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.
Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.Kaberry, D.
Birch, NigelFletcher-Cooke, C.Keeling, Sir Edward
Bishop, F. P.Fort, R.Kerr, H. W. (Cambridge)
Black, C. W.Foster, JohnLambert, Hon. G.
Boothby, R. J. G.Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)Lambton, Viscount
Bossom, A. C.Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale)Lancaster, Col. C. G.
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.Gage, C. H.Langford-Holt, J. A.
Boyle, Sir EdwardGalbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.
Braine, B. R.Gammans, L. D.Leather, E. H. C.
Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)Garner-Evans, E. H.Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.
Braithwaite, Lt.-Cdr. G. (Bristol, N.W.)George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. LloydLegh, P. R. (Petersfield)
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.Glyn, Sir RalphLennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.
Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)Godber, J. B.Lindsay, Martin
Brooman-White, R. C.Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.Linstead, H. N.
Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.Gough, C. F. H.Llewellyn, D. T.
Bullard, D. G.Gower, H. R.Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)
Bullock, Capt. M.Gridley, Sir ArnoldLloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)
Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.
Burden, F. F. A.Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)Longden, Gilbert (Herts, S.W.)
Butcher, H. W.Harden, J. R. E.Low, A. R. W.
Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (Saffron Walden)Hare, Hon. J. H.Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)
Carr, Robert (Mitcham)Harris, Reader (Heston)Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)
Carson, Hon. E.Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh
Cary, Sir RobertHarvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield)Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.
Channon, H.Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)McAdden, S. J.
Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)Harvie-Watt, Sir GeorgeMcCallum, Major D.
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)Hay, JohnMcCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.
Cole, NormanHead, Rt. Hon. A. H.Macdonald, Sir Peter (I. of Wight)
Conant, Maj. R. J. E.Heald, Sir LionelMackeson, Brig, H. R.
Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. AlbertHenderson, John (Cathcart)McKibbin, A. J.
Cooper-Key, E. M.Higgs, J. M. C.McKie, J. H. (Galloway)

make another effort to get for the future the specific exclusion from the Bill of numerous appliances which we regard as vitally necessary, whoever may be in power, that we will have to go on with discussion of the Amendments standing in the names of my hon. Friends.

rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."

Question put, "That the Question be now put."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 290; Noes, 273.

Maclay, Hon. JohnPerkins, W. R. D.Storey, S.
Maclean, FitzroyPete, Brig. C. H. M.Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)
MacLeod, Iain (Enfield, W.)Peyton, J. W. W.Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)
MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)Pilkington, Capt. R. A.Studholme, H. G.
Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)Pitman, I. J.Summers, G. S.
Macpherson, Maj. Niall (Dumfries)Powell, J. EnochSutcliffe, H.
Maitland, Comdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)Taylor, Charles (Eastbourne)
Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)
Manningham-Buller, Sir R. E.Profumo, J. D.Teeling, W.
Markham, Major S. F.Raikes, H. V.Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)
Marlowe, A. A. H.Rayner, Brig. R.Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)
Marples, A. E.Redmayne, M.Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)Remnant, Hon. P.Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)
Marshall, Sidney (Sutton)Roberts, Maj. Peter (Heeley)Thorneycroft, R. Hn. Peter (Monmouth)
Maude, AngusRobertson, Sir DavidThornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.
Maudling, R.Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)Tilney, John
Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)Touche, G. C.
Medlicott, Brig. F.Roper, Sir HaroldTurner, H. F. L.
Mellor, Sir JohnRopner, Col. Sir LeonardTurton, R. H.
Molson, A. H. E.Russell, R. S.Tweedsmuir, Lady
Monckton, Rt. Hon. Sir WalterRyder, Capt. R. E. D.Vane, W. M. F.
Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir ThomasSalter, Rt. Hon. Sir ArthurVaughan-Morgan, J. K.
Morrison, John (Salisbury)Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.Vosper, D. F.
Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.Schofield, Lt.-Col. W. (Rochdale)Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Nabarro, G. D. N.Scott, R. DonaldWard, Miss I. (Tynemouth)
Nicholls, HarmarScott-Miller, Cmdr. R.Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.
Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)Watkinson, H. A.
Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir WalterWebbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)
Nield, Basil (Chester)Smithers, Peter (Winchester)Wellwood, W.
Noble, Cmdr. A. H. P.Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)White, Baker (Canterbury)
Nugent, G. R. H.Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)
Nutting, AnthonySnadden, W. McN.Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Oakshott, H. D.Soames, Capt. C.Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)
Odey, G. W.Spearman, A. C. M.Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Antrim, N.)Speir, R. M.Wills, G.
Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Orr, Capt. L. P. S.Spens, Sir Patrick (Kensington, S.)Wood, Hon. R.
Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)Stanley, Capt. Hon. RichardYork, C.
Orr-Ewing, Ian L. (Weston-super-Mare)Stevens, G. P.
Osborne, C.Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Partridge, E.Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)Mr. Drewe and Mr. Heath.
Peake, Rt. Hon. O.Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.


Acland, Sir RichardClunie, J.Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.
Adams, RichardCocks, F. S.Glanville, James
Albu, A. H.Coldrick, W.Gooch, E. G.
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)Collick, P. H.Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.
Anderson, Alexander (Motherwell)Cook, T. F.Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale)
Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven)Corbet, Mrs. FredaGrenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.Cove, W. G.Grey, C. F.
Awberry, S. S.Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)
Bacon, Miss AliceCrosland, C. A. R.Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)
Baird, J.Crossman, R. H. S.Griffiths, William (Exchange)
Balfour, A.Cullen, Mrs. A.Grimond, J.
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)
Bence, C. R.Darling, George (Hillsborough)Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)
Benn, WedgwoodDavies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.)Hall, John (Gateshead, W.)
Benson, G.Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)Hamilton, W. W.
Berwick, F.Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)Hannan, W.
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)de Freitas, GeoffreyHardy, E. A.
Bing, G. H. C.Deer, G.Hargreaves, A.
Blackburn, F.Delargy, H. J.Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.)
Blenkinsop, A.Dodds, N. N.Hastings, S.
Blyton, W. R.Donnelly, D. L.Hayman, F. H.
Boardman, H.Driberg, T. E. N.Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)
Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich)Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley, Regis)
Bowen, E. R.Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.Herbison, Miss M.
Bowles, F. G.Edelman, M.Hewitson, Capt. M.
Braddock, Mrs. ElizabethEdwards, John (Brighouse)Hobson, C. R.
Brockway, A. F.Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)Holman, P.
Brook, Dryden (Halifax)Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)Holmes, Horace (Hemsworth)
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)Houghton, Douglas
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)Hoy, J. H.
Brown, Thomas (Ince)Ewart, R.Hubbard, T. F.
Burke, W. A.Fernyhough, E.Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)
Burton, Miss F. E.Field, W. J.Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)Fienburgh, W.Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)
Callaghan, L. J.Finch, H. J.Hynd, H. (Accrington)
Carmichael, J.Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)
Castle, Mrs. B. A.Follick, M.Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)
Champion, A. J.Foot, M. M.Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)
Chapman, W. D.Forman, J. C.Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.
Chetwynd, G. R.Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)Janner, B.

Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.Nally, W.Steele, T.
Jeger, George (Goole)Neal, Harold (Bolsover)Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)
Jeger, Dr. Santo (St. Pancras, S.)Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J.Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R.
Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford)Oldfield, W. H.Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.
Johnson, James (Rugby)Oliver, G. H.Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)
Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)Orbach, M.Stress, Dr. Barnett
Jones, David (Hartlepool)Oswald, T.Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.
Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.)Padley, W. E.Swingler, S. T.
Jones, Jack (Rotherham)Paget, R. T.Sylvester, G. O.
Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Keenan, W.Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)Taylor, John (West Lothian)
Kenyon, C.Pannell, CharlesTaylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)
Key Rt. Hon. C. W.Pargiter, G. A.Thomas, David (Aberdare)
King, Dr. H. M.Parker, J.Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
Kinley, J.Paton, J.Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)
Lee, Frederick (Newton)Pearson, A.Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)Peart, T. F.Thurtle, Ernest
Lever, Harold (Cheetham)Plummer, Sir LeslieTimmons, J.
Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)Poole, C. C.Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.
Lewis, ArthurPopplewell, E.Tomney, F.
Lindgren, G. S.Porter, G.Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.Price, Joseph T. (Westhoughton)Viant, S. P.
Logan, D. G.Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)Wallace, H. W.
MacColl, J. E.Proctor, W. T.Watkins, T. E.
McGhee, H. G.Pryde, D. J.Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.)
McInnes, J.Pursey, Cmdr. H.Weitzman, D.
McKay, John (Wallsend)Rankin, JohnWells, Percy (Faversham)
McLeavy, F.Reeves, J.Wells, William (Walsall)
MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)Reid, Thomas (Swindon)West, D. G.
McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.Reid, William (Camlachie)Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John
MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)Rhodes, H.White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
Mainwaring, W. H.Richards, R.White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)Robens, Rt. Hon. A.Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)Roberts, Albert (Normanton)Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.
Mann, Mrs. JeanRoberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)Wilkins, W. A.
Manuel, A. C.Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)Willey, Frederic (Sunderland, N.)
Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.Ross, WilliamWilley, Octavius (Cleveland)
Mayhew, C. P.Royle, C.Williams, David (Neath)
Mellish, R. J.Schofield, S. (Barnsley)Williams, Rev. Llyweiyn (Abertillery)
Messer, F.Shackleton, E. A. A.Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Mikardo, IanShinwell, Rt. Hon. E.Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)
Mitchison, G. R.Short, E. W.Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)
Monslow, W.Shurmer, P. L. E.Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Moody, A. S.Silverman, Julius (Erdington)Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)
Morgan, Dr. H. B. W.Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Morley, R.Slater, J.Wyatt, W. L.
Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)Yates, V. F.
Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)Younger, Rt. Hon. K.
Mort, D. L.Snow, J. W.
Moyle, A.Sorensen, R. W.TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Mulley, F. W.Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir FrankMr. Bowden and Mr. Wigg.
Murray, J. D.Sparks, J. A.

Question put accordingly, "That 'or appliances' stand part of the Clause."

Division No. 67.]


[7.8 p.m.

Aitken, W. T.Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)
Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)Birch, NigelClarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)
Alpert, C. J. M.Bishop, F. P.Cole, Norman
Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)Black, C. W.Conant, Maj. R. J. E.
Amory, Heathcoat (Tiverton)Boothby, R. J. G.Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert
Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J.Bossom, A. C.Cooper-Key, E. M.
Arbuthnot, JohnBoyd-Carpenter, J. A.Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)
Ashton, H. (Chelmsford)Boyle, Sir EdwardCranborne, Viscount
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)Brains, B. R.Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.
Astor, Hon. J. J. (Plymouth, Sutton)Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.
Baker, P. A. D.Braithwaite, Lt.-Cdr. G. (Bristol. N.W.)Crouch, R. F.
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.Bromley-Davenport, Lt.- Col. W. H.Crowder, John E. (Finchley)
Baldwin, A. E.Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)
Banks, Col. C.Brooman-White, R. C.Cuthbert, W. N.
Barber, A. P. L.Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)
Barlow, Sir JohnBullard, D. G.Davidson, Viscountess
Baxter, A. B.Bullock, Capt. M.Deedes, W. F.
Beach, Maj. HicksBullus, Wing Commander E. E.Digby, S. Wingfield
Beamish, Maj. TuftonBurden, F. F. A.Dodds-Parker, A. D.
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)Butcher, H. W.Donaldson, Comdr. C. E. McA.
Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (Saffron Walden)Donner, P. W.
Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)Carr, Robert (Mitcham)Doughty, C. J. A.
Bennett, Sir Peter (Edgbaston)Carson, Hon. E.Dugdale, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond)
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)Cary, Sir RobertDuncan, Capt. J. A. L.
Bennett, William (Woodside)Channon, H.Duthie, W. S.

The Committee divided: Ayes, 291; Noes, 273.

Eccles, Rt. Hon. D. M.Legh, P. R. (Petersfield)Rayner, Brig. R.
Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.Redmayne, M.
Erroll, F. J.Lindsay, MartinRemnant, Hon. P.
Fell, A.Lindsay, H. N.Roberts, Maj. Peter (Healey)
Finlay, GraemeLlewellyn, D. T.Robertson, Sir David
Fisher, NigelLloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)
Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)
Fletcher-Cooke, C.Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.Roper, Sir Harold
Fort, R.Longden, Gilbert (Herts, S.W.)Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard
Foster, JohnLow, A. R. W.Russell, R. S.
Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.
Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale)Lucas, P. B. (Brantford)Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur
Gage, C. H.Lucas-Tooth, Sir HughSandys, Rt. Hon. D.
Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.Schofield, Lt. Col. W. (Rochdale)
Gammons, L. D.McAdden, S. J.Scott, R. Donald
Garner-Evans, E. H.McCallum, Major D.Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.
George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. LloydMcCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)
Glyn, Sir RalphMacdonald, Sir Peter (I. of Wight)Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter
Godber, J. B.Mackeson, Brig. H. R.Smithers, Peter (Winchester)
Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.McKibbin, A. J.Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)
Gough, C. F. H.McKie, J. H. (Galloway)Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)
Gower, H. R.Maclay, Hon. JohnSnadden, W. McN.
Graham, Sir FergusMaclean, FitzroySoames, Capt. C.
Gridley, Sir ArnoldMacLeod, Iain (Enfield, W.)Spearman, A. C. M.
Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)Speir, R. M.
Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)
Harden, J. R. E.Macpherson, Maj. Niall (Dumfries)Spens, Sir Patrick (Kensington, S.)
Hare, Hon. J. H.Maitland, Cmdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard
Harris, Reader (Heston)Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)Stevens, G. P.
Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)Manningham-Buller, Sir R. E.Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)
Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield)Markham, Major S. F.Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)
Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)Marlowe, A. A. H.Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Harvie-Watt, Sir GeorgeMarples, A. E.Storey, S.
Hay, JohnMarshall, Douglas (Bodmin)Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)
Head, Rt. Hon. A. H.Marshall, Sidney (Sutton)Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)
Heald, Sir LionelMaude, AngusStudholme, H. G.
Henderson, John (Cathcart)Maudling, R.Summers, G. S.
Higgs, J. M. C.Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.Sutcliffe, H.
Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)Medlicott, Brig. F.Taylor, Charles (Eastbourne)
Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)Mellor, Sir JohnTaylor, William (Bradford, N.)
Hinchingbrooke, ViscountMolsan, A. H. E.Teeling, W.
Hirst, GeoffreyMonckton, Rt. Hon. Sir WalterThomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)
Holland-Martin, C. J.Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir ThomasThomas, P. J. M. (Conway)
Hollis, M. C.Morrison, John (Salisbury)Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Holmes, Sir Stanley (Harwich)Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)
Hope, Lord JohnNabarro, G. D. N.Thorneycroft, R. Hn. Peter (Monmouth)
Hopkinson, HenryNicholls, HarmarThornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.
Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)Tilney, John
Horobin, I. M.Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)Touche, G. C.
Howard, Greville (St. Ives)Nield, Basil (Chester)Turner, H. F. L.
Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)Noble, Cmdr. A. H. P.Turton, R. H.
Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)Nugent, G. R. H.Tweedsmuir, Lady
Hulbert, Wing Cmdr. N. J.Nutting, AnthonyVane, W. M. F.
Hurd, A. R.Oakshott, H. D.Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.
Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)Odey, G. W.Vesper, D. F.
Hutchison, James (Scotstoun)O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Antrim, N.)Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M.Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)
Hylton-Foster, H. B. H.Orr, Capt. L. P. S.Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.
Jenkins, R. C. D. (Dulwich)Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)Watkinson, H. A.
Jennings, R.Orr-Ewing, Ian L. (Weston-super-Mare)Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)
Johnson, Eric (Blackley)Osborne, C.Wellwood, W.
Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)Partridge, E.White, Baker (Canterbury)
Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.Peake, Rt. Hon. O.Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)
Kaberry, D.Perkins, W. R. D.Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Keeling, Sir EdwardPeto, Brig. C. H. M.Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)
Kerr, H. W. (Cambridge)Peyton, J. W. W.Williams, R. Dudey (Exeter)
Lambert, Hon. G.Pilkington, Capt. R. A.Wills, G.
Lambton, ViscountPitman, I. J.Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Lancaster, Col. C. G.Powell, J. EnochWood, Hon. R.
Langford-Holt, J. A.Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)York, C.
Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.
Leather, E. H. C.Profumo, J. D.TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.Raikes, H. V.Mr. Drewe and Mr. Heath.


Acland, Sir RichardBacon, Miss AliceBevan, Rt. Hon. A (Ebbw Vale)
Adams, RichardBaird, J.Bing, G. H. C.
Albu, A. H.Balfour, A.Blackburn, F.
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.Blenkinsop, A.
Anderson, Alexander (Motherwell)Bence, C. R.Blyton, W. R.
Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven)Benn, WedgwoodBoardman, H.
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.Benson, G.Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.
Awbery, S. S.Beswick, F.Bowen, E. R.

Bowles, F. G.Holmes, Horace (Hemsworth)Popplewell, E.
Braddock, Mrs. ElizabethHoughton, DouglasPorter, G.
Brockway, A. F.Hoy, J. H.Price, Joseph T. (Westhoughton)
Brook, Dryden (Halifax)Hubbard, T. F.Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)Proctor, W. T.
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)Pryde, D. J.
Brown, Thomas (Ince)Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Pursey, Cmdr. H.
Burke, W. A.Hynd, H. (Accrington)Rankin, John
Burton, Miss F. E.Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)Reeves, J.
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)Reid, Thomas (Swindon)
Callaghan, L. J.Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)Reid, William (Camlachie)
Carmichael, J.Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.Rhodes, H.
Castle, Mrs. B. A.Janner, B.Richards, R.
Champion, A. J.Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.Robens, Rt. Hon. A.
Chapman, W. D.Jeger, George (Goole)Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Chetwynd, G. R.Jeger, Dr. Santo (St. Pancras, S.)Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)
Clunie, J.Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford)Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Cocks, F. S.Johnson, James (Rugby)Ross, William
Coldrick, W.Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)Royle, C.
Collick, P. H.Jones, David (Hartlepool)Schofield, S. (Barnsley)
Cook, T. F.Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.)Shackleton, E. A. A.
Corbet, Mrs. FredaJones, Jack (Rotherham)Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.
Cove, W. G.Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)Short, E. W.
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)Keenan, W.Shurmer, P. L. E.
Crosland, C. A. R.Kenyon, C.Silverman, Julius (Erdington)
Crossman, R. H. S.Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)
Cullen, Mrs. A.King, Dr. H. M.Slater, J.
Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.Kinley, J.Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Darling, George (Hillsborough)Lee, Frederick (Newton)Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)
Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.)Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)Snow, J. W.
Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)Lever, Harold (Cheetham)Sorensen, R. W.
Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
de Freitas, GeoffreyLewis, ArthurSparks, J. A.
Deer, G.Lindgren, G. S.Steele, T.
Delargy, H. J.Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)
Dodds, N. N.Logan, D. G.Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R.
Donnelly, D. L.MacColl, J. E.Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.
Driberg, T. E. N.McGhee, H. G.Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)
Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich)McInnes, J.Stross, Dr. Barnett
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.McKay, John (Wallsend)Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.
Edelman, M.McLeavy, F.Swingler, S. T.
Edwards, John (Brighouse)MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)Sylvester, G. O.
Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)Taylor, John (West Lothian)
Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)Mainwaring, W. H.Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)
Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)Thomas, David (Aberdare)
Ewart, R.Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
Fernyhough, E.Mann, Mrs. JeanThomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)
Field, W. J.Manuel, A. C.Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
Fienburgh, W.Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.Thurtle, Ernest
Finch, H. J.Mayhew, C. P.Timmons, J.
Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)Mellish, R. J.Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.
Follick, M.Messer, F.Tomney, F.
Foot, M. M.Mikardo, IanUngoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
Forman, J. C.Mitchison, G. R.Viant, S. P.
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)Monslow, W.Wallace, H. W.
Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.Moody, A. S.Watkins, T. E.
Glanville, JamesMorgan, Dr. H. B. W.Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.)
Gooch, E. G.Morley, R.Weitzman, D.
Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale)Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)Wells, William (Walsall)
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur (Wakefield)Mort, D. L.West, D. G.
Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.Moyle, A.Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John
Grey, C. F.Mulley, F. W.White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)Murray, J. D.White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)Nally, W.Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Griffiths, William (Exchange)Neal, Harold (Bolsover)Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.
Grimond, J.Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J.Wilkins, W. A.
Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)Oldfield, W. H.Willey, Frederick (Sunderland, N.)
Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Coln Valley)Oliver, G. H.Willey, Octavius (Cleveland)
Hall, John (Gateshead, W.)Orbach, M.Williams, David (Neath)
Hamilton, W. W.Oswald, T.Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)
Hannan, W.Padley, W. E.Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Hardy, E. A.Paget, R. T.Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)
Hargreaves, A.Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)
Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.)Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Hastings, S.Pannell, CharlesWinterbottom, Richard (Brightside)
Hayman, F. H.Pargiter, G. A.Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)Parker, J.Wyatt, W. L.
Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)Paton, J.Yates, V. F.
Herbison, Miss M.Pearson, A.Younger, Rt. Hon. K.
Hewitson, Capt. M.Peart, T. F.
Hobson, C. R.Plummer, Sir LeslieTELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Holman, P.Poole, C. C.Mr. Bowden and Mr. Wigg.

I understand that the agreement is that the next Amendment, in page 1, line 9, at the end, to insert "other than artifical limbs," in the name of the hon. Member for Brierley Hill (Mr. Simmons), and those following, down to the last Amendment but two on page 370 of the Order Paper, can be taken together. I suggest to the Committee, however, that a good deal of the discussion on all these Amendments has already taken place on the previous Amendment and that this may, possibly, shorten the discussion upon them.

On a point of order. May I get this clear? I was not here at the very beginning when Sir Charles MacAndrew was in the Chair, but I understand that only four of these Amendments are to be selected. I wonder whether those are the four to which the right hon. Gentleman said a little while ago that the debate was confined. There are another 10 Amendments without which, unless the Opposition take some steps, if they can, to ensure that they are inserted into the Bill, the Minister, although we do not doubt his word of honour, would still have power, for instance, to make regulations prescribing charges for something other than those matters in the four Amendments which it is proposed to call.

I understand that the agreement was that the whole of the discussion upon the series of Amendments would take place on the next Amendment, that four Divisions would be taken, that they would be selected by the Opposition themselves and that they may divide upon any four that they choose.

Further to that point of order. I do not think there is much between us. I think it is a question of interpretation of what the Committee have agreed upon. My understanding of the advice given by Sir Charles MacAndrew was that he said there would be a very wide debate upon the four Amendments which he had selected, and that they would be put to the vote. But the Amendment on which we have just voted was taken separately from those four which he selected; therefore, the debate which has just taken place has been upon the Amendment which has been disposed of, and that Amendment was dealt with in that way principally to enable the Minister to make a statement.

Now I understand that we have reverted to the position which existed when Sir Charles gave his advice to the Committee. Therefore, we have a very wide debate upon the whole of these Amendments after which the four Amendments will be put and we may vote upon them.

I was not a party to any agreement at all, but surely last week Sir Charles did say that it might be convenient to have a wide debate upon the whole of the 14 of these Amendments, which could then be put to the vote. Then an hon. Member on this side of the Committee said that that would not be convenient, and Sir Charles said, "All right, I will exercise my power of selection." That is quite clear to me. I am not quite sure whether, when the Chairman has indicated that he is prepared to have a Division upon all 14 Amendments, he can later say, "I will now use my power of selection."

I cannot give a Ruling upon that. The agreement, as I understand it, was that after the first Amendment there should be a general discussion on the second Amendment, taking in the remainder of the Amendments, and that there should be four Divisions, the Divisions to be selected not by the Chair but by the Committee.

I am now in considerable doubt, Mr. Hopkin Morris. I thought it was clear, as my hon. Friend has said, that it is the Chair who will select the Amendments. There has been a general arrangement made in consultation with my hon. Friends most closely concerned, and there is an agreement. There has been a convenient arrangement which will permit the debate to take a wide scope within a certain range. But there cannot be any suggestion that we have chosen the Amendments which the Chair is to put to a Division. I want to make it quite plain, on behalf of my hon. Friends, that if we had our way we would take a vote on each of the 14 Amendments. When that point was put, Sir Charles MacAndrew put his point of view and said that he had an obligation to select the Amendments and that he would not call all the 14. The four Amendments which are being called are and must be the selection of the Chair and not of my hon. Friends.

I quite understand that the power of selection lies with the Chair. The point I am putting is quite simple. Sir Charles said last week that there would be a debate on the 14 Amendments and that there would be Divisions if the Committee wanted them. He now says—he certainly said so last week—that if that was not satisfactory he would use his power of selection. I am putting this to you, Mr. Hopkin Morris, for your consideration, that if the Chair has once said, "You may have a Division on 14 Amendments" he cannot say five minutes later, "Oh, no, I will use my power of selection." That is my only point which I am submitting for your consideration, Mr. Hopkin Morris. I do not know whether you would think fit to consult the Chairman of Ways and Means.

It is clear that the Chair has power of selection, but I understand that this arrangement was come to by agreement, and that we are now carrying out that agreement.

As I understand it, there was to be a wide debate, but I understand that we have had a wide debate. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] That is what I understood. I then understood that the Chairman was to put the four selected Amendments; otherwise, we would not have discussed these very points which we have dealt with during the earlier debate. We have had speeches on such things as surgical boots, abdominal belts, and so forth. That was my understanding.

We were having the wide debate followed by such Divisions as the Opposition chose to call, but only on some or all of the four which had been selected by the Chairman—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I think I might be allowed to finish my sentence. I know how hon. Members opposite love to interrupt me, and I do not mind that, but I do think that on a point of order I should be allowed to finish what I am saying. My understanding is that we should have a wide debate, and we have had it since 7.30; we have ranged over the whole field. I understood that the Chairman had selected only four Amendments, and that owing to that arrangement, a Division could be taken on any or all four of those Amendments as the Opposition wished.

As I understand the arrangement, after the first Amendment was taken there was to be a general discussion on the second Amendment, taking in the whole of the rest. I made the suggestion at the commencement of the discussion that in view of the speeches which I had heard while I was in the Chair—they ranged over the whole of these Amendments—the Committee might agree to take the matter shortly. But that has nothing to do with the agreement. That is what I understand the position to be.

Is the position not this? In view of the agreement which was made for the convenience of the Committee—and that includes the Government—is it not a fact that inasmuch as the Chair is not going to make the selection, after this wide debate it will be the Committee who will decide what Amendments they wish to divide upon. Since there are only four Amendments relating to articles on which charges are sought to be imposed, we shall, of course, know what to divide upon.

My recollection is quite clear. I have been in the Chamber the whole time. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I was in the Committee the whole time that the argument was going on in relation to the bargain. My recollection is perfectly clear that the arrangement was that there should be a wide general debate, and that after the debate was concluded all the Divisions should be taken. It seems that we are now going back again to having a wide debate in spite of the bargain arrived at by the Committee.

I have stated what my understanding is of the arrangement. I do not think that there is any use in continuing this discussion any further.

I beg to move, in page 1, line 9, at the end, to insert "other than artificial limbs."

7.30 p.m.

On a point of order, Mr. Hopkin Morris. I understood that prior to the Divisions, when the right hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot) left the Chamber with his special receptacle, you ruled that the question of the retention of the case which he brought in was a matter not for the Chair but for the Serjeant at Arms. With very great respect to you, Mr. Hopkin Morris, and great regard, I want to suggest that it would only be a matter for the intervention of the Serjeant at Arms if a decision were taken by the House instructing the Serjeant at Arms or a Ruling was explicitly given by you. The matter assumes more serious proportions than the mere theory I am now submitting to you because, after that statement, with great alacrity, the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, after showing us the contents of his case, took it hurriedly from the Chamber, apparently under the impression from your Ruling that if he did not do so the Serjeant at Arms, on his own responsibility, could have taken action against him.

Whether I have understood that aright or no, I put this to you, Mr. Hopkin Morris, that by your Ruling you have unintentionally put into the hands of the Serjeant at Arms a power that hitherto he has never possessed. You have interfered with the right of the House which insists upon the Serjeant at Arms being regarded as its servant and you have made him the master in a situation which compelled, as I am suggesting to you, the right hon. and gallant Gentleman to leave the Chamber extremely hurriedly with the case which he had illegally brought into it.

The Serjeant at Arms has certain duties, which are laid down, and there is no question of my extending his powers at all. The powers are there. There is no point in discussing this point of order any further.

This is really a serious matter. The Serjeant at Arms is the servant of the House. He has certain instructions with regard to what should be brought into this Chamber. When hon. Members are actually in this Chamber they are under the jurisdiction of the occupant of the Chair. The Serjeant at Arms in this Chamber can only act under the orders of the Chair. It would be quite out of order for him to have entered without an order from the Chair or without the will of the House having been expressed, to remove the article which the right hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot) brought in. I submit that there should be great consideration before it is laid down that the Serjeant at Arms has a right, on his own authority, to act in this Chamber.

May I say first that of course I did not leave the Chamber with the attache case for any reason except to accelerate the progress of the debate and to ensure that the frivolous and ridiculous interruptions which were going on should be brought to an end as soon as possible? I made no objection, for instance, to the receptacle which has been introduced into the Chamber by the hon. Member for Liverpool, Exchange (Mrs. Braddock), which is quite as large as anything I brought in, because we are here discussing a serious subject, and I think that these interruptions, especially that of the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. J. Hudson), show the amount of seriousness to be attached to their filibustering tonight.

I understood a lady's handbag was something that could be brought into the House. I have always carried this with me and no objection has been taken to it. I think it most childish on the part of the right hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot), because he was caught out with some case which he should not have brought into the Chamber, to try to put some responsibility on someone else in order to divert attention from himself.

There is a Standing Order with regard to this jurisdiction. The Leader of the Opposition stated that in this House the Serjeant at Arms has no jurisdiction, and that is absolutely correct. I gave no instruction that the offending case should be taken out, but that could not be done by the Serjeant at Arms under the Standing Order, which is about bringing things into the House. In my Ruling tonight there has been no expansion of the powers of the Serjeant at Arms in this Chamber. I think that we might now proceed.

Further to that point of order. I submit to you that the whole of the facts of the matter, which we saw for ourselves, indicated that action was only taken by the right hon. and gallant Member after you had given that Ruling. He was aware, of course, when he brought the case in of the powers of the Serjeant at Arms. I beg of you to listen—on a point of order—

This incident is now over. The offending article was taken out and we might now get on with the business.

May I submit to you that the right hon. and gallant Member was aware of that Rule which you have quoted—that his bag ought not to have been brought into the House—because he has had his attention called to that matter on earlier occasions. He himself has brought the bag here and we have told him—

I have listened patiently to the hon. Member, and I think the Committee have listened patiently to him. I think we might now be allowed to proceed with the business.

I will now deal with my Amendment, which deals with appliances other than artificial limbs. As the discussion is ranging over a whole group of Amendments, I wish to ask how, when the Government or the Minister of Health make charges, they discriminate? How does the Minister pick out here and there what he is to charge upon? What is the criterion and the standard laid down? Invalid chairs and motor tricycles, which save shoe leather, are free, but surgical boots are taxed. Why is there this discrimination?

Obviously, of course, we are against all these charges, but as the charges are being made, I think we have some right to know on what basis they are being made. We have been told that the charge on surgical boots is because people need to have boots anyhow. That is about the weakest argument I have ever heard. As was said when we were discussing the previous Amendment, people do not wear surgical boots for fun. They do not wear them for the sake of their appearance; they wear them because they are compelled to wear them. If people are compelled to wear them through ill health or disability, why should we penalise them by this monstrous charge?

In 1951, 15,133 war pensioners had new surgical boots and 28,637 had repairs. The Minister did not know the figures in regard to National Health patients, he told us. I will give them to him. In 1951 the Ministry of Pensions supplied National Health Service patients with 52,785 pairs of surgical boots. They had repairs done to 33,058 pairs and adapted to surgeon's specifications 204,630 pairs. All these are to be chargeable against the patient when this Bill and its attendant orders come into operation. We say that it is a monstrous imposition upon people who have enough suffering to bear to have this charge put upon them.

As this surgical operation on the part of the Minister of Health is to raise only £250,000 it has made some of us very suspicious. It looks like the thin edge of a pretty thick wedge. We have no doubt that at the moment the Minister is quite sincere when he says that his present—and mark that he used the word "present"—intention, and the present intention of the Government, is to impose charges only on the four appliances he has mentioned.

But how are we to know how the mind of this Government will turn? How are we to know whether, if they get into a tight corner, they may not want £750,000 or £1 million and that they will get that money by making charges on other of these requirements? Although we have the assurance that most of the things listed in the Amendments which we are discussing will not be within the ambit of the Bill, we want to see that in black and white before we accept the assurance.

We on this side of the Committee do not trust the Tories. We do not trust their promises. We have not yet had our good red meat. We have not yet had many of the things promised by the Tory politicians at the last General Election. But many of the people whom we are proud to represent have had many things they were not promised, and do not want. They have had unemployment for one thing. So, therefore, I say that we have the right to insist that if the Government do not intend to make a charge upon these various appliances, we should have that stated in black and white in the Bill.

In discussing this question of artificial limbs, I must declare my interest. By raising my trouser leg I could display my interest, but I will content myself with declaring it. There is an overwhelming case for the exemption of artificial limbs from health charges, and I hope to convince the Minister of this, so that he will put it in black and white in the Bill. I believe that the Minister is a kindly man when not upset and harassed because his Parliamentary timetable is out of gear, and I am sure that when he realises how much human happiness has accrued from the provision of free artificial limbs he will, at any rate, accept this Amendment.

The war disabled have always been exempt both from the charge for artificial limbs and from the charge for the upkeep and maintenance of them. It would be monstrous to impose this charge upon them, and, to give the Government credit, I do not think they intend to impose it on those who come under the control of the Ministry of Pensions.

Last year, war pensioners were supplied with 2,979 artificial legs and 729 artificial arms; a total of 47,770 repairs were carried out to artificial legs and 3,299 repairs to arms. I would point out to the Committee, however, that National Health amputees are also supplied with limbs through the Ministry of Pensions, and last year 13,174 new legs were supplied and 38,224 repairs to legs were carried out. The figures for arms were 2,968 and 2,103 respectively. So there is a large number of people who are involved in these threatened charges, because until we have it in the Bill and so long as the Government have the power by statutory order to impose these charges, they are threatened people.

7.45 p.m.

As I said, we on this side of the Committee just do not trust the Tories because of their philosophy; because of their record and their outlook on life, and because of what they are. The very least we can do for the man who has lost a limb in battle is to replace it with the best possible substitute. Over very many years—and this is not a party point at all—the limb surgeons, technicians, fitters and makers at the Ministry of Pensions have evolved the finest artificial limbs in the world. Research is still going on and improvements are still being made.

This unrivalled organisation, which has served disabled ex-Service men for more than 30 years, was immediately available to the National Health Service on its inception, and the Ministry of Pensions is now handling more National Health Service cases than war-disabled cases. That is as it should be. Citizens who lose limbs in industry through accident or disease have an equal claim with the war disabled for the best substitute to replace the lost limb.

It has to be the best, and that is why we are pressing this matter tonight. Only the best is good enough for those who have given their limbs in the service of their country, either in battle or in industry. They are entitled to be assisted with all the resources of the State through the Health Service and through the Ministry of Pensions so that they may, as much as possible and in spite of their disability, live a normal and happy life. That is why I ask for the removal of artificial limbs from the ambit of these charges.

What happened before the National Health Service began to deal with civilian limbless? My right hon. Friend mentioned the matter earlier this evening. Some of them never had an artificial limb. They could not contemplate the expense of getting one. So they went about on crutches and suffered strain and malformation of their bodies as a result. They suffered doubly both from the amputation and from these other disabilities because they were not being supplied with an adequate substitute for that which they had lost. They suffered from paralysis and such complaints.

Others had artificial limbs supplied by insurance companies, and the less said about some of those the better. Many of them were badly fitted or unsuited to the particular form of disability. No proper walking training was given to those supplied with them. The limbs were made of inferior material by inferior workmen. The whole set-up was unsatisfactory. When the appliances broke down they were often never looked at again.

Some people scraped together enough money to buy an artificial limb. Sometimes their neighbours subscribed to buy the limb for them. We have heard many stories of neighbours in working-class districts clubbing together to help one of their unfortunate brothers.

When someone was in trouble these people whom hon. Gentlemen opposite look down upon talked about how old Jack had lost his leg at the pit or on the railway and would probably never be able to work again. They said, "If only he could get an artificial leg to enable him to get about a bit, that would help him." They used to organise a collection round the streets. It was a case of the poor helping the poor.

That was in the old days before the National Health Service. We on this side of the Committee will never forget these people. It is they who make us proud to be Members of Parliament as their representatives. These people either scraped enough money together themselves or were supplied with an artificial limb as a result of the love, generosity, comradeship and fellowship of their neighbours.

Often they found that they could not afford to get the limb repaired or renewed. The result was that in the first 12 or 18 months of the National Health Service the Ministry of Pensions had a flood of out-of-date broken-down limbs from disabled people. Among them were veritable instruments of torture looking for all the world like instruments of the Spanish Inquisition.

My hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Blenkinsop), has already referred to the time when he was at the Ministry of Pensions before I went there. He was there when the change-over began and all these contraptions came in. There were ramshackle legs tied up with pieces of string, tape and wire. There was one leg made of concrete or concrete and gravel.

Our people suffered from these disabilities before the Labour Government brought in the free Health Service and commissioned the Ministry of Pensions to give the injured in industry the same benefits as those which had been given to the war disabled. As chairman of the Ministry's Artificial Limb Production Committee at that time, I was soon made aware of the accumulated suffering of thousands of civilian disabled who had not had the good fortune which those who lost a limb in battle had of coming immediately under the attention of the limb surgeons, fitters and makers of the Ministry of Pensions.

I wonder whether the Minister and most hon. Members would willingly put a curb on the happiness and laughter of children, especially handicapped children. I am sure that they would not. I should like to mention the tragic little children who suffer amputation, often as a result of accidents. They are to be found in the Ministry of Pensions limb-fitting centres.

Many are little tots aged three or four, and there, because of the Labour Government's National Health Service, their tragedy is turned to hope and, with the realisation of that hope, to joy and laughter. I ask hon. Members to envisage a little child aged three or four with a double amputation being able to run about on artificial legs, happy and confident in spite of his handicap.

The Government surely cannot with these charges put a tax on the laughter and happiness of little children. Today these children get what the children of a past generation were denied because their parents could not afford it. They are getting it because our Labour Government brought in the National Health Service and brought within the ambit of that Service the provision of artificial limbs to civilians, including children.

Is this charge essential? Is it fair? Already nearly 50,000 civilians have received artificial legs and nearly 8,000 have received artificial arms through the Service. Is it fair to make those who suffer amputation at a later date pay when the others got their artificial limbs free? Does the Minister really want disabled persons to go back to the days of crutches and peg-legs. Long John Silver may be a romantic figure on the stage or the screen, but a one-legged or a peg-legged man with only a crutch or a peg to help him along is a dead loss in industry.

Most of these amputees want to play their part in industry. The Ministry of Pensions amputees are playing their part, because they have been properly trained in the use of their artificial limbs and re-equipped physically and mentally to do their job. We do not expect to get full production from a Heath Robinson contraption tied up with tape and wire. In industry such a thing would not be tolerated. Neither can we expect a disabled person to pull his weight in industry unless we adequately replace what he has lost and, by training, re-equip him for the job. If we do that, he will give us as much production as a normal man.

Artificial limbs should be issued free. But, if those arguments are not sufficient, I ask the Minister to consider another point. I am not ashamed of being sentimental, especially about the difficulties of my less fortunate brethren, but if my arguments so far are regarded as sentimental, I ask the Minister to look at this matter from the angle of self-interest. Make these men efficient units on the production line. It will pay the nation good dividends. Stop this niggling. Put the words of this Amendment in the Bill. Do not spoil the ship for a ha'p'orth of tar. Do not keep willing workers off the production line for the price of an artificial limb.

It was said of old,
"Eye for eye, tooth for tooth."
Nothing was said about a "bob" for a prescription. We say, "a limb for a limb" to give the fullest encouragement to the disabled to face the future with courage and with hope.

We had a long debate on the first Amendment today, and it has been agreed that about 14 Amendments shall now be taken together. I hope that I shall not be guilty of using any argument which has already been used today. I am fortified in that hope by the fact that I have sat here since 3.30 and have heard everything that has been said. The importance of these Amendments, seven of which are in my own name, has been fully confirmed by the Minister this afternoon, especially on the last occasion when he spoke.

We had some fears at the beginning of the debate, and when, ultimately, the Minister made his statement he made it clear that he will insist on making regulations in future. We shall have no safeguard whatever either about the actual amounts he proposes to charge for the four appliances specified on Second Reading or that he will not bring other articles into the scope of this Clause at some future time. If anyone follows him in his high office, his successor will not be so bound.

8.0 p.m.

There has been some discussion today on the point made by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton South-West (Mr. Powell) that, after all, the Minister was merely following a precedent set by the Labour Government in the Act of 1949. I think the Minister must agree, and if he does not I hope he will say so, that under that Act no action was taken. Nothing was done, and, when anything was done, it was about teeth and spectacles, and was done under another Act. That Act was the 1951 Act, and Section 2 (3)—I do not have to read it to the Committee—made a complete change with regard to technique, in that everything had to be done by Order in Council and no Order in Council could be recommended until there had been affirmative Resolutions of both Houses of Parliament.

I hope we shall not hear so much more about the 1949 Act, or, if we do, I hope hon. Members opposite will not mind if we remind them that the 1949 Act was not the only Act under which action was ever taken by the Labour Government, but that it was under the Act of 1951, when it was not done by regulations and in which the Minister was not empowered to act by means of the regulation technique.

Having said that, I am entitled to say that the way in which hon. Members opposite are behaving in regard to these arguments makes me feel that a Labour Government has only to have dreams or thoughts about something or other for a succeeding Tory Government to seize upon them and implement them. May be, that is what Tory Governments exist for—to seize upon things which we never intended to carry out and which we found must not be carried out, but upon which they say, "Here we have something; this is what we can do at long last."

I said at the beginning that I feel that we were fully justified in putting down these Amendments. There has been a good deal of talk about corsets, and I can tell the Minister where he went wrong and where there was some confusion in the Committee. [Interruption.] I am sorry, but the Minister must learn something about corsets, because he spoke about them. He used the words "many alleged abuses," and I am glad that he used the word "alleged," and that, when the matter was put to him, he had not got any evidence. He said that there are borderline cases.

May I put it to him that what has been happening and the kind of story that has reached him is this. Abuse has certainly occurred in a direction which I will specify. Patients, usually middle-aged and rather plump women, have been told by the representatives of commercial companies which manufacture corsets with patent names that they would feel very much better if they were these patent corsets, and that they should go to their general practitioner and get him to say that they were suffering from visceroptosis—whatever that may mean—I do not want to talk about gruesome details, nor do I want to send hon. Members home feeling very ill, although I think that, by the time we are finished, we shall all be suffering from everything except housemaid's knee.

This technique of going to the family doctor, telling him that the patient had severe visceroptosis, and asking him to help get these corsets free of Purchase Tax—they paid for the corsets, but got them free of Purchase Tax—resulted in corsets being supplied by private firms who send out their touts after giving them half a dozen lessons by correspondence course, and whose duty it then is to sell this type of corset.

I must rise to ask you, Mr. Thomas, how far this debate is going? I understood that we were discussing an Amendment about artificial limbs. All this is very interesting, but it seems to me that we are now exactly where we were before on a previous Amendment—ranging over the whole field.

I think it is perfectly clear that my predecessor in the Chair gave a Ruling that we would have a very wide discussion covering all these other Amendments specifying different appliances which hon. Members would like to be omitted from the Clause. The Committee did agree—and it is my impression, although I was not in the Chair at the time—that we would discuss all these Amendments, and that, after this broad discussion on all these various points, there would if necessary, be four Divisions.

I am grateful to you, Mr. Thomas; that is exactly what I understood.

After all, the words, "surgical corsets" are used in an Amendment which bears my name, and my name also heads a list of seven others on the next page of the Order Paper. I thought the Minister was behaving somewhat peevishly, merely because I know more about corsets than he does. This is a serious discussion, and the Minister must not be frivolous with the Committee. This is a matter of health, and sometimes a matter of the only little enjoyment that some people can get out of life.

There is a tendency for people to abuse the family doctor by trying to persuade him to prescribe a certain type of corset fitted with ridiculous pads, the wearing of which would suggest that the kidneys are in front and the stomach at the back, or whatever it may be. All this, as hon. Members of the Committee well know, is brought about in order to sell an article which is not worth the money asked for it, but this has nothing to do with what we are discussing.

This is the story which the Minister has heard. It is the sort of tittle-tattle which has persuaded him to come here and say, "We have heard of cases of abuse: some cases are on the borderline of being merely reinforced corsets." The Minister made reference to the charge for abdominal surgical belts and said he wanted people to have them free, but he does not understand what he means by that or what these things really are. I beg him to listen to those who do. He says he will not charge a man or woman who is ruptured for a truss, but what are these other appliances but trusses?

Does not the Minister know that one can rupture oneself through strain or get a rupture in the epigastric area? Does he not know that people who work with pig iron, men who work in the mines, people who have had operations and go back to work before they are well can have ruptures? There are doctors in the Committee, not only on this side but opposite, who know these things.

I note that the Minister says that he will supply trusses at the present time, although, in future, he might have to charge for them, and, in any event, he will charge the patient 1s. for being fool enough to go to his general practitioner whereas, if he had had it written out on a scrap of paper, he may not have had to pay the shilling. I think the Minister has been badly advised. I am sure that he knows more about other things than he does about this, but we have to blame him, because he it is who sits there and must take the responsibility. He should have armed himself with much better knowledge before he came to the House on the Committee stage of the Bill.

I will say nothing about elastic hosiery. The few words spoken in previous speeches show that the imposition of a charge here is an attack upon middle-aged and elderly women who have borne many children and who suffer from varicose veins and ulceration, and who need not be tied to their beds or their couches if they wear elastic stockings. I will not go into these details, but, so far, we have had nothing from the Minister about them and our appeals seem to make no impression on him. We are wondering who has been getting at him and telling him that it is so important to seize this £250,000 out of the crippled—most of them poor and most of them crippled through industrial accidents.

Is it reasonable or fair to suggest that he has suddenly been told that they cannot possibly afford to keep him in his present position unless he seizes this £250,000? I do not believe that is true, nor does anyone else. The right hon. Gentleman is one of the most influential members of his party, and quite rightly so; he is one of the most experienced and usually one of the most urbane and knowledgeable. We have told him before that we know he does not like this Bill; and he must loathe this part of it, in which he is perpetrating injustices upon the lame and the halt and the crippled.

The last thing I want to say to him is perhaps of a more positive nature, and it is to suggest to him that he could have found the money so easily in other ways. The Minister knows quite well that if all the hospitals in the country could save a further £1 a day by buying a little more cheaply through better centralised buying—better than they have yet been able to achieve—that would mean a saving of £1 million a year.

Does not the Minister think he could ask them to get together and to create a great co-operative organisation for centralised buying and for an interchange of their goods? This would save £1 million a year at least; it might save as much as £8 million to £10 million a year. Vast sums of money could be saved. This could not be done in the first moments of the scheme, and the Service is still young, but these are the directions in which we could go.

If the Minister wanted the money, surely he could have forgone the method he has adopted under the Bill and could have saved it perhaps in this way: he could have looked at the expenses of the part-time consultants. May I put this to him—and it is a very serious point which no doubt has been put to him from other sources. I can give the example of a hospital in the London area which has only 200 beds but which has 64 part-time visiting consultants. In addition to their normal sessional fees, they receive £11,000 a year for travelling time. In addition, they receive £2,100 a year mileage fees. That is over £13,000 in travelling time and mileage fees, and I put it to the Minister that it is worth looking at this type of thing, because one could staff with full-time consultants, I think, more comprehensively, more efficiently and much more cheaply.

Sitting in front of me is the hon. Member for Tottenham (Mr. Messer), probably the finest and most experienced lay administrator this country has ever had, and I hope he will be able to give some examples from his personal experience—I know he could give many examples—to show how we could save so as not to need to adopt the technique in the Bill.

I have given the Minister those two examples because I do not want him to think that we have no other ideas and that we do not want to help him. We do want to help him, and if we offer our help, as we always do, in positive ways like this, should we not be allowed to say this: while he has not given us very much consideration so far, surely he will at least promise us the positive rather than the negative procedure when we come to discuss these matters. Will he not write some of these things into the Bill, so that neither he nor anyone who follows him, of whatever complexion politically he may be, will be able to betray the finest moral instrument we have ever created for the health of our people?

8.15 p.m.

The hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Dr. Stross), asked hon. Members on this side of the Committee not to refer to the 1949 Act. We can fully understand the qualms which any reference to that Act at present produces in the minds of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. I do not intend to refer to the 1949 Act, but to the 1951 Act, to which the hon. Gentleman also made reference. I hope that he and his hon. Friend the Member for Brierley Hill (Mr. Simmons), who spoke so eloquently earlier, and indeed other hon. Members who may follow, will explain to me the difference in principle between a charge on blindness or on shortness of sight and a charge on baldness.

If the hon. Gentleman allows me to finish my point, I will certainly give way to him.

We know quite well that, according to the Minister's statement on Second Reading, the charge to be made was to apply to wigs and was to be £2 10s. We know, equally, that in 1951 a charge was to be made on spectacles and that the amount was to be something over £1. I cannot for the life of me—although I am going bald myself—see that a disability through baldness is any different from a disability for somebody who is losing his sight.

I will answer the hon. Gentleman quite briefly. There is no difference; we were both wrong. There is, however, this one difference between us. The charges imposed by the Front Bench which I support were imposed reluctantly, whereas hon. Gentlemen opposite are imposing these charges gleefully.

That is an entirely malicious and wrong statement. No one on this side of the Committee nor, I believe, in any part of the Committee, takes any pleasure whatever in imposing these charges. If we are to go into this matter, I remind hon. Members opposite that if they look back at the speeches which were made immediately after the announcement of the charges on prescriptions in 1949, they will find that there was no outcry from hon. Members opposite and no mention whatver of the subject in the debate which followed on the economic situation. [HON. MEMBER: "Oh!"] I do not want to pursue that, however, because I should be straying far from the point we are discussing, and I realise that it is a very sore and difficult subject for hon. Members opposite.

In any event, we now have an admission from the whole of the party opposite that they were wrong in 1951. It has taken them a long time to realise that fact. It has taken them precisely the time during their movement from Government to Opposition, from responsibility to irresponsibility; and that is the whole difference between the situation now and the situation then. If any hon. Member opposite can explain to us, during this part of the Committee stage, the difference in principle between a charge placed upon an appliance connected with shortness of sight or loss of sight or blindness and a charge connected with baldness we shall be more impressed by the arguments which they have been putting forward for the last few hours than we have been up to the present.

The hon. Gentleman the Member for Colchester (Mr. Alport) and his colleagues the hon. Gentleman the Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain MacLeod) and the hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) have greatly reinforced the debating forces of the other side so far as our discussions of the social services are concerned, but we had not the benefit of their advice in the 1945 Parliament. If we had had, perhaps we should be readier to listen to what the hon. Member for Colchester had to say tonight about what happened in 1949. I can assure him at once that when legislation was introduced giving the late Government power to impose the 1s. prescription charge it was strenuously opposed by a good many of my hon. Friends. The hon. Gentleman and his colleagues can look up the record. They will find that what I say is quite true.

I, in common with a lot of my hon. Friends, did not vote for that proposal, and I am very glad indeed that my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) was able to persuade his colleagues in the Cabinet of that day that it was, administratively, an impossibility. Anyhow, the result was, whatever the argument at the time, that, at the end of the day, they did not impose upon the people of Great Britain the atrocity the present Government are doing so gleefully.

Certainly, the introduction of these charges in this Clause justifies the oft-repeated complaints that some of us on this side of the Committee have made. We have always believed that the return of a Tory Government would mean the methodical dismantling of the National Health Service. Moreover, some of us believe that the Labour Government last year were very foolish in introducing charges for dentures and spectacles. I shall come a little later in my speech to a difference on this point between my right hon. Friends last year and hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite now.

I want to refer for a moment, as many hon. Members have in this debate, to the contribution made on Second Reading by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Enfield, West. A large section of the national Press and many Members of this Committee have acclaimed that speech. As I heard it, there was nothing remarkable about it at all, for it was a restatement of the traditional Tory attitude—except that it was couched in more than usually subtle tones. What was the hon. Gentleman's position? What is his attitude on the charges? We may as well get clear what really is the attitude of the Government. Are they imposing the charges because they believe that the financial and economic condition of Great Britain does not allow expenditure above the ceiling on the Health Service? That was the position of my right hon. Friends last year. I did not agree with that, and a lot of us on this side did not.

What is the position of hon. Gentlemen opposite? The hon. Gentleman the Member for Enfield, West, said, on Second Reading:
"I have always believed in these charges."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th March, 1952; Vol. 498, c. 971.]
There is nothing new about that. We have always believed that to be so about the Tory Party. He did not say that these charges were imposed on financial or economic grounds. He told the House quite clearly:
"I have always believed in these charges."
He went on to say that he believed in them not only on economic grounds, but on social and ethical grounds. That is what he said. There is nothing new about that. I am really surprised at some hon. Members who find this speech of the hon. Gentleman a revelation. It is nothing but traditional Tory policy dressed up in slightly more sophisticated garments.

I turn to another statement of the hon. Gentleman which is so typical of his party's attitude. The hon. Gentleman was speaking about the award to the general practitioners. We have a different picture there. He was referring to what my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale had said about the Danckwert's award. My right hon. Friend had said he was horrified. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Enfield, West, said:
"Let me say that that delights me."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th March, 1952; Vol. 498, c. 966.]
It delights him to see £40 million awarded to the general practitioners when he finds is socially and ethically correct to charge poor people in the way envisaged in this miserable Bill.

Let me say quite frankly what delights me about this award. There are many matters of professional remuneration, not only in the general practitioner field, that will certainly have to be considered. It seems to be also clear that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) was on perfectly sound ground in lamenting that the terms of reference to Mr. Justice Danckwerts were too wide. I think that that is true. What delights me is that at long last justice has been done to the most important people in the Health Service, and that at long last the agreement which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale failed to implement year by year to the general practitioners has been brought home.

There is nothing in what the hon. Gentleman has said that would cause too much consternation among some of my hon. Friends. We were always prepared to meet the general practitioners. We have always said so. An offer was made by the previous Government to the general practitioners. But what I find so interesting in the hon. Gentleman's speech is how clearly it gives away the sort of attitude of mind which, however it is disguised in the phrases of 1952, is so typical of what is worst in the party opposite.

Let me tell the hon. Gentleman that those of his right hon. and hon. Friends who collaborated in producing their pamphlet on the social services, and whom I have watched in this Committee, lack, despite their superficial slickness in their, attitude towards these so human problems, that essential kindheartedness which—[Laughter.] Yes, I have seen that exhibited on many occasions by some of them whom we were fighting even in the 1945 Parliament, and before that. I say that their attitude reminds me very frequently of the attitude displayed by gentlemen who spoke in similar accents before 1939, and who were black shirts.

8.30 p.m.

Let us accept their argument as being based upon the deterrent principle—that the changes are to prevent abuses. Let us examine that suggestion. Last year the previous Government imposed certain charges. I do not want to go into that at too much length tonight. I have expressed my point of view of that tonight, as I did last year. Let us look at the effect of that. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South - West (Mr. Powell), challenged my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Exchange (Mrs. Braddock), tonight when she said that the imposition of these charges might encourage unscrupulous manufacturers to prey on the poor people who wished to obtain these appliances.

Has he not heard that in pre-National Health Service days, in those palmy days when his party enjoyed undisputed majorities for long periods in this House, poor people who needed these many appliances often obtained them by paying small weekly sums? If they could get them in that manner, by the weekly contribution method, in the majority of cases without the supervision of a skilled practitioner in their fitment, they did not inquire too closely into the qualifications of those who were supplying them. Has he not heard about that? Does he not think it possible that that might re-emerge?

I ventured to interrupt him tonight, when I gave the example of what has already happened arising from charges in the ophthalmic service last year. This matter recently obtained a great deal of prominence in the "Sunday Express," who reported that there were greatly increased sales of spectacles in chain stores—that means in places like Woolworths—and that in villages and towns in Great Britain there were emerging unqualified practitioners who were approaching poor people and selling them spectacles on the weekly contribution basis. The Parliamentary Secretary was approached, and she told the Press—and I was glad to hear it that the Ministry were very greatly disturbed at this development. They have every cause to be disturbed. Now they introduce a Bill which will extend that iniquitous practice into further fields. These are extremely evil consequences, but I will leave this matter here and hope to introduce it at a later stage.

I am glad to have this opportunity of attempting to show the inconsistencies and dishonesties of the more pamphlet-producing section of the new Tories. I leave it there, but I assure them that, as the days go by no amount of clever writing or speech-making will disguise from the people of Great Britain the true character of certain sections of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite.

This debate covers 14 Amendments, each of which deals with a specific item of surgical appliance, some of which will be charged by the Government and others of which we wish to have mentioned in the Bill so that they shall be excluded from the possibility of any charge in future. I do not wish to detain the Committee unduly, and I shall confine my remarks to those items which the Minister named when he stated that charges would be imposed.

First I wish to speak about wigs. Since the free issue of wigs under the Health Service a large number of ignorant people have cried with racuous voices that this issue is an extravagant waste of public money. I wish to try to convince the Minister that there has been no extravagance, and that the issue of free wigs should continue. First, let me examine the financial aspect. On 4th February of this year the Minister, in answer to a Question of mine, informed me that last year 9,750 wigs were issued free of charge to Health Service patients in England and Wales. Fewer than 10,000 wigs were issued free to our population of many millions.

This charge which the Government intend to impose will act as a deterrent on people who require wigs, and it is, therefore, most probable that fewer free wigs will be issued next year. For the sake of this argument, let us assume that, say, 10,000 wigs will be issued next year. The Minister has stated that he will impose a charge of £2 10s. on each wig. If he expects to collect £2 10s. in respect of each wig, on 10,000 wigs, he will gather into the Exchequer £25,000.

That is a very small amount of money within the expenditure of the National Health Service of £400 million. It works out that the Minister is, by means of this mean and cruel imposition, trying to save one-sixteenth thousand part of the cost of the National Health Service. This does not prevent abuse. I am sure that the Minister cannot claim that there has been any abuse in the issue of free wigs. There has not been any unnecessary or excessive demand for them. The purpose of this imposition is to limit the number of people having wigs, and the effect will be to limit the wigs to those people who need them and can afford to pay for them.

It will, of course, hit hardest those of slender financial means, and I regard it as a shameful example of Tory thoughtlessness. I have noticed in my professional experience that people who suffer from the unfortunate affliction of having a completely hairless head often suffer embarrassment out of all proportion to their slight degree of abnormality. That feeling probably arises from some deep-seated emotional origin. I should like to give a case that came within my own professional experience, before the days of the Health Service.

There was a young working woman who had what I should describe as a reasonably good head of hair. She did not have permanent waving, tinting, shampoos and all the rest of the things that are provided at the ladies' hairdressers because she could not afford them. She certainly made no claim to her hair being her crowning glory; nevertheless, it was something of which she need not feel ashamed. Unfortunately, the day came when that woman lost every hair on her head, and that made her feel very unhappy. She could not afford a wig, and I think, in a sense, she must have felt ashamed of her nakedness. So great was that woman's embarrassment and depression that she put her head into a gas oven.

I am greatly concerned lest anyone in need of a wig should be unable to have one, owing to inability to pay the proposed cost. I think that it is uncharitable and callous to pass this legislation. The effect of withholding the relief given by a wig from anyone in need of such a comfort can be really serious.

The next appliance on which a charge is to fall is surgical boots. The Minister cannot claim that there has been any abuse in the use of surgical boots. They are needed only by those who are at least to some extent crippled, and the majority of cripples are limited by reason of their deformity in their earning capacity. The heavy burden of having to pay £3 for a pair of surgical boots will fall upon those who can least afford the expense.

I consider £3 an excessive price to pay for footwear. The majority of my constituents do not pay £3 for a pair of boots, certainly not for their working boots. If the Tory Government remains in power it is very likely that the majority of my constituents will have to return to the wearing of clogs as they did in the days of previous Tory rule. If that happens, perhaps the Government will ensure that the price of clogs goes up to £3 a pair.

The sum of £3 is a large one for working people to pay. It ought also to be remembered—it has been mentioned already, but I do not think the Minister realises it—that cripples who wear surgical boots need to have them repaired far more frequently than do normal people and, in addition, such boots wear out and need replacing more quickly than normal boots. Very often cripples wearing surgical boots have also to wear iron callipers, and the friction of the calliper on the leather quickly causes deterioration of the footwear.

This legislation, which I can only describe as brutal, will hit the weak and the deformed, and I am very concerned about the fact that many people in need of surgical boots will be denied them for financial reasons. It is all wrong. It is unjust and uncharitable. It is devoid of social justice.

The next item selected by the Minister for a charge is abdominal belts. I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that there are a number of grave surgical conditions which, if not controlled properly by means of abdominal belts, can lead to serious complications.

The fourth item upon which a charge is to fall is elastic hosiery. For what condition is elastic hosiery usually prescribed? It is needed for varicose veins. In what type of patient are varicose veins usually found. They are usually found among women who have borne children.

Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite like to boast about their gallantry. They say that, when the ship is in danger, women and children should be the first to be saved. Those are fine words. But what of their deeds? The moment that the financial ship begins to rock, the mothers are selected as the first to leave the ship, and they are thrown overboard.

The wretched charge on elastic hosiery is a penalty on motherhood. Some of my women constituents in Batley and Morley who have brought up families will be unable to afford this heartless charge. Their varicose veins will become worse and there will be a danger of their developing varicose ulcers and other complications. The very people whom we should honour, respect and help will be hit and hurt by this callous legislation.

I am very glad that my hon. Friend the Member for Batley and Morley (Dr. Broughton), with his professional knowledge as well as his public experience, went out of his way to talk as he did about wigs. It has been fun to the more vulgar elements opposite, and to the more vulgar elements in the Press which supports them, to single out the provision of free wigs for special attack. They might keep in mind that when many of our Allies on the Continent wanted to show their contempt of the kind of women who consorted with Fascist soldiers they did so by shaving their heads. They singled them out in that way to shame and humiliate them.

It is going against all knowledge of psychology—we do not need to be trained doctors to know this—and it is stupid, cruel and silly to produce this kind of legislation, which hon. Members would not support if they thought that their own women, or even men in certain instances—we are agreed that there is a special woman's angle to this matter— would not be able to make private provision for these things.

8.45 p.m.

The hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain MacLeod) deserves to be congratulated for his candour in putting on record in HANSARD that he believes in charges. Very close to the heart of this problem is the fact that those who can afford the charges are not affected in the least by any of the matters we are considering. They can procure them through their private purse. But if we believe in charges, we have got to look carefully to see whether we are really trying to economise, whether we are trying to get fresh legislation or whether we are not doing in the most contemptible fashion what we on this side of the Committee are often accused of doing, promoting a mean and malicious form of class warfare.

There can be no doubt at all about the people affected by these charges. If Members opposite were as candid as the hon. Member for Enfield, West, they would go further and say that they did not believe in partial charges for these appliances at all, but would like to see the full market value paid. Further, they would like to see the maximum number of middlemen put their charge on these appliances and they would like to see other additional charges piling up.

One of the most remarkable insights into how the Tory mind works is seen in the ingenuity which has been exerted to save £250,000 here or at the very most £1 million or £2 million, for it is done by the piling up of human humiliation and misery. Quite clearly, many hon. Members opposite, from their own business experience, know that there are other ways of saving a great deal more money.

Aural aids are one of the items we want specifically excluded from the charges. I know that we have been given certain generalised promises, and some hon. Members opposite may think we are being unduly suspicious in respect of the exemptions which we want laid down in legislative form, but it is not just the last Election that we have in mind; it is the last century, and much more. It is no just red meat, the cost of living and the food subsidies, but the specific pledges given in public by men who were considered by many to be honourable, and which were then broken.

While our personal recollections may not go back a century, those of some of us go back quite a bit. The first thing that I remember when I became interested in politics was a Tory Prime Minister, Mr. Baldwin, telling our people in the coalfields in 1926—and it was more than the people in the coalfields for it included the organised workers who were supporting the miners—that if they went back to work there would be no victimisation. Nothing could have been more definite and more widely published. Many people believed it.

Hon. Members opposite must realise that we have got substantial ground for our arguments, for we are not, as has already been said, prepared to trust the Tories. We believe that we can depend upon what we get in legislation here.

I am concerned very much about the problem of the cost of the services and equipment to sick people in our hospitals. It is a very exciting field of research. I suggest to some of out pamphleteers opposite that if they want a really good subject they might investigate item by item the appliances provided in our hospitals, and see how many millions of pounds could be saved by cutting out unnecessary waste and by doing for all the items mentioned in our Amendments what has been done in the most dramatic way in the case of hearing aids.

The Committee may be aware that on that one item alone vast sums were saved, partly to the Government and partly to individual sufferers. I notice that up to September, 1951, we had supplied 152,000 bearing aids. A great many more are required. At one time those hearing aids cost roughly £40 when bought on the open market. I think that is a conservative estimate. Many of them cost a great deal more.

If all people who had required hearing aids had gone to the market and bought them, they would have paid for them more than £6 million. Obviously many people would simply have done without them. The Government stepped in, and by bringing the technicians and the medical specialists together and doing a serious job of bulk supplying, which is possible when the supply is free, they were able to save the country a great deal of money.

I am extremely suspicious of even a small charge on any of these appliances. It does more than some hon. Members opposite realise. It tempts people to pay more than that charge in order to buy an inferior article on the instalment plan. When some hon. Members opposite talk in terms of: "Oh, just a pound," or "Just a pound or two," they cannot conceive that getting that pound, or that pound or two, can be as remote an objective to many working-class budgets as a journey to the moon. That is true even in a period of good employment when the family are growing up.

I have known working-class matrons who have required elastic stockings and surgical corsets who could not get into the habit of spending money on themselves. They would remember that their households needed new carpets, new bath towels or something for the children. It became financially impossible for the mother to put herself into the priority queue, even with father in full employment and the children beginning to help. There is more than one instance within my personal knowledge where the mother simply could not come round to spending money on herself.

In those circumstances, several things happen. One of them is the tendency to go to quacks. The women gets the wrong kind of corset, paying more to someone who comes to the door. That seems easier to them than going through a complicated process of visits. They get the corsets on the instalment system—or they simply do without. Elastic hosiery provides an instance of how thousands of women will let themselves go to pieces. They will do without that kind of aid because they do not regard it as a matter of life and death.

If there is anything that has given happiness to me, and should have given pleasure and pride to all hon. Members, it has been to go into some of the side streets of our cities, to go into our mining villages, and at last to see women in their middle years and older years carrying themselves in a way that at one time was the privilege of only well-to-do women.

Normally, a woman who has borne a large family, or whose health has not been good, becomes discouraged by a combination of poverty and ill health. What a wonderful thing it was when we reached that state of civilisation in this country when we were concerned about elastic stockings, when we were concerned about surgical stockings, when we were concerned about wigs and so on. And now we are asked to turn back the clock.

I hope, even at this late stage, that some of the things which have been said will leave their influence on hon. Members opposite. We on this side of the Committee have to be charitable. We know that there may be a lack of imagination and a lack of experience on all sides.

I was bitterly ashamed when my own party was responsible for charging for teeth and spectacles. We shall not accept that. I believe it was due to lack of imagination and to lack of experience. I do not believe that those Members of my own party who were responsible for those, silly, trivial charges would now impose them. I think they know better. But if we deviated to a small extent, if we to a minor extent blotted a Service which means so much to us, it is no reason why hon. Members opposite should try to carry those sins a bit further.

The party opposite has shown a great desire to imitate us. Hon. Members opposite have quoted at great length, if not with great exactitude, what happened in 1949 and 1951 and at other times. I invite them to imitate the best we have done, not the mistakes we have made. If they will do that, they will find themselves busy for a very long time indeed. If they do that, we can invite them to come to this side of the Committee because, as has been said already, there seems to be something innate in the Tory Party which makes it introduce this kind of legislation.

I do not want to give it any hints for the survival of the Tory Party, but hon. Members opposite would have been much cleverer politicians—humanity and any other decent reasons apart—if they had had the common sense, particularly on this Measure, to have carried on the best that has been done by this side of the Committee instead of trying to cover themselves by one or two of our mistakes.

The hon. Lady the Member for Cannock (Miss Lee) said one thing which I appreciated very much, namely, that we ought all to be charitable, because, listening to the speeches I have heard from the other side of the Committee during the afternoon, that was the quality which was conspicuous by its absence. Certainly, the adjectives and, one might say, the ruderies, which have been directed at the Government and at my Friends on this bench and behind me, have been very severe. We have had a general review, almost a Second Reading debate, for the third time on this Amendment. [An HON. MEMBER: "There is a lot more yet."]

The Amendment deals with a short point, and it is to that that I propose to reply. What the group of Amendments seeks to do is something which is often attempted in Bills; it is nothing new. Very often an attempt is made to put in one exception or another, and the risk which the Committee always runs, should it carry out that purpose, is that it may very well, by inserting a number of things, omit and, therefore, make more vulnerable something which it really would like to have inserted had it thought of it at the time.

9.0 p.m.

Our minds are working in an entirely different direction. We think that it is better not to have any of these exceptions but to rely, as I have said earlier, on the regulatory power which is given in the Bill; and in the Bill to take the powers, as the Clause provides, to make the regulations. Then, the regulations afterwards have to come before Parliament and can be discussed.

In anticipation of that, I made it quite clear what our intentions are and, therefore, the impassioned speech, for example, of the hon. Member for Brierley Hill (Mr. Simmons), to which we all listened, I am sure, with emotion, was completely off the mark when he said most emphatically that we must all demand that artificial limbs should be free issue for all pensioners—war pensioners and the rest.

None of that is in issue at all. [Interruption.] I have made it clear every time I have spoken that we are not dealing with that at all. [Interruption.] Perhaps hon. Members would listen to my argument for five minutes, instead of at once interrupting. I said that there were two ways of dealing with this matter. Either one excludes, or tries to exclude, everything, or else one depends on the regulatory power. We are depending on the regulatory power. I have already told the House—on Second Reading and in Committee today—twice exactly what we intend to do.

A little of the charitable feeling which the hon. Lady the Member for Cannock (Miss Lee) suggested should be in hon. Members' minds.

The only other point I was about to make at this stage—because I have made these points before—is that I very much resented the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mr. Baird), saying that we were doing all this gleefully. [HON. MEMBERS: "Of course you are."] I very much resented that. The hon. Member knows that it is quite untrue and that I said exactly the opposite, not only in the debate in January but also on the Second Reading debate. I pointed out that it was an extremely distasteful thing for anybody to have to put on charges, just as it was for the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) when he took the power to do it.

I cannot give way. I am answering the hon. Gentleman when he said that we did this gleefully. That is not true. I have gone out of my way to express myself on two previous occasions, and I endorse what I said then.

It is, of course, a matter for regret that our financial situation should be such that we should have to introduce measures of this kind.

Before the hon. Gentleman puts his point of order to me, I hope he really believes that it is a point of order.

Of course I do, Sir Charles. I should like your guidance. This is a Committee of the whole House. Is it not usual when one Member attacks another to make way and to let him reply and defend himself?

As for any attack, it was the other way round. It was the hon. Gentleman who was saying that I was gleeful about this.

The hon. Gentleman is always a smiling figure and we appreciate seeing him, but he must not try to make statements of that kind, because I repudiate them entirely. I have done so before and I do it again.

No. The hon. Gentleman has tried a point of order but that was no good, and it is no good his trying to explain himself. He has said it, and it is not true.

There is one other point I should like to stress, because so much has been said—by the hon. Lady the Member for Cannock, among others—about what a terrible burden these charges would be upon people. [HON. MEMBERS: "They are."] If they are, we have made it quite clear that any case of hardship will be entitled to relief, just in the same way as last year, under the spectacles and dentures Regulations, hardship cases could be relieved.

We are carrying on in exactly the same way and, therefore, it is no more right to make these charges and accusations about these proposals than it would have been for hon. Members opposite to have made them about their proposals. I am unable to accept the Amendment, because, as I said at the beginning of my remarks we have taken the contrary view as being the better way of drafting the Bill, and I suggest that we should be allowed to proceed.

rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."

Question put, "That the Question be now put."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 291; Noes, 267.

Division No. 68.]


[9.7 p.m.

Aitken, W. T.Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.
Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)Fletcher-Cooke, C.Macdonald, Sir Peter (I. of Wight)
Alport, C. J. M.Fort, R.Mackeson, Brig. H. R.
Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)Foster, JohnMcKibbin, A. J.
Amory, Heathcoat (Tiverton)Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)McKie, J. H. (Galloway)
Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J.Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lansdale)Maclay, Hon. John
Arbuthnot, JohnGage, C. H.Maclean, Fitzroy
Ashton, H. (Chelmsford)Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)MacLeod, Iain (Enfield, W.)
Astor, Hon. J. J. (Plymouth, Sutton)Gammons, L. D.MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)
Baker, P. A. D.Garner-Evans, E. H.Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. LloydMacpherson, Maj. Niall (Dumfries)
Baldwin, A. E.Glyn, Sir RalphMaitland, Cmdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)
Banks, Col. C.Godber, J. B.Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)
Barber, A. P. L.Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.Manningham-Buller, Sir R. E.
Barlow, Sir JohnGough, C. F. H.Marlowe, A. A. H.
Baxter, A. B.Gower, H. R.Marples, A. E.
Beach, Maj. HicksGraham, Sir FergusMarshall, Douglas (Bodmin)
Beamish, Maj. TuftonGridley, Sir ArnoldMarshall, Sidney (Sutton)
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)Grimond, J.Maude, Angus
Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)Maudling, R.
Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.
Bennett, Sir Peter (Edgbaston)Harden, J. R. E.Medlicott, Brig. F.
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)Hare, Hon. J. H.Mellor, Sir John
Bennett, William (Woodside)Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)Molson, A. H. E.
Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)Harvey, Lt.-Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield)Monckton, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter
Birch, NigelHarvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir Thomas
Bishop, F. P.Harvie-Watt, Sir GeorgeMorrison, John (Salisbury)
Black, C. W.Hay, JohnMott-Radclyffe, C. E.
Boothby, R. J. G.Head, Rt. Hon. A. H.Nabarro, G. D. N.
Bossom, A. C.Heald, Sir LionelNicholls, Harmar
Bowen, E. R.Heath, EdwardNicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.Henderson, John (Cathcart)Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)
Boyle, Sir EdwardHiggs, J. M. C.Nield, Basil (Chester)
Braine, B. R.Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)Noble, Cmdr. A. H. P.
Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)Nugent, G. R. H.
Braithwaite, Lt.-Cdr. G. (Bristol, N.W.)Hinchingbrooke, ViscountNutting, Anthony
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.Hirst, GeoffreyOakshott, H. D.
Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)Holland-Martin, C. J.Odey, G. W.
Brooman-White, R. C.Hollis, M. C.O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Antrim, N.)
Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.Holmes, Sir Stanley (Harwich)Ormsby-Gore. Hon. W. D.
Bullard, D. G.Hope, Lord JohnOrr, Capt. L. P. S.
Bullock, Capt. M.Hopkinson, HenryOrr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)
Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.Osborne, C.
Burden, F. F. A.Horobin, I. M.Partridge, E.
Butcher, H. W.Howard, Greville (St. Ives)Peaks, Rt. Hon. O.
Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (Saffron Walden)Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)Perkins, W. R. D.
Carr, Robert (Mitcham)Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)Peto, Brig. C. H. M.
Carson, Hon. E.Hulbert, Wing Cmdr. N. J.Peyton, J. W. W.
Cary, Sir RobertHurd, A. R.Pilkington, Capt. R. A.
Channon, H.Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)Pitman, I. J.
Churchill, Rt. Hon. W. S.Hutchison, James (Sootstoun)Powell, J. Enoch
Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)Hylton-Foster, H. B. H.Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)Jenkins, R. C. D. (Dulwich)Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.
Cole, NormanJennings, R.Profumo, J. D.
Conant, Maj. R. J. E.Johnson, Eric (Blackley)Raikes, H. V.
Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. AlbertJohnson, Howard (Kemptown)Rayner, Brig. R.
Cooper-Key, E. M.Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.Remnant, Hon. P.
Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)Kaberry, D.Roberts, Maj. Peter (Heeley)
Cranbourne, ViscountKeeling, Sir EdwardRobertson, Sir David
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.Kerr, H. W. (Cambridge)Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.Lambert, Hon. G.Robson-Brown, W.
Crouch, R. F.Lambton, ViscountRodgers, John (Sevenoaks)
Crowder, John E. (Finchley)Lancaster, Col. C. G.Roper, Sir Harold
Crowder, Petra (Ruislip—Northwood)Langford-Holt, J. A.Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard
Cuthbert, W. N.Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.Russell, R. S.
Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)Leather, E. H. C.Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.
Davidson, ViscountessLegge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur
Deedes, W. F.Legh, P. R. (Petersfield)Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.
Digby, S. WingfieldLennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.Schofield, Lt.-Col. W. (Rochdale)
Dodds-Parker, A. D.Lindsay, MartinScott, R. Donald
Donaldson, Comdr. C. E. McA.Linstead, H. N.Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.
Donner, P. W.Llewellyn, D. T.Shepherd, William
Doughty, C. J. A.Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)
Drewe, C.Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter
Dugdale, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond)Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.Smithers, Peter (Winchester)
Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.Longden, Gilbert (Harts, S.W.)Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)
Duthie, W. S.Law, A. R. W.Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)
Eccles, Rt. Hon. D. M.Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)Snadden, W. McN.
Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.Lucas, P. B. (Brantford)Soames, Capt. C.
Erroll, F. J.Lucas-Tooth, Sir HughSpearman, A. C. M.
Fell, A.Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.Speir, R. M.
Finlay, GraemeMcAdden, S. J.Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)
Fisher, NigelMcCallum, Major D.Spens, Sir Patrick (Kensington, S.)

Stanley, Capt. Hon. RichardThompson, Kenneth (Walton)Watkinson, H. A.
Stevens, G. P.Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)
Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter (Monmouth)Wellwood, W.
Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.White, Baker (Canterbury)
Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.Tilney, JohnWilliams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)
Storey, S.Touche, G. C.Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)Turner, H. F. L.Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)
Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)Turton, R. H.Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
Summers, G. S.Tweedsmuir, LadyWills, G.
Sutcliffe, H.Vane, W. M. F.Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Taylor, Charles (Eastbourne)Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.Wood, Hon. R.
Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)Vosper, D. F.York, C.
Teeling, W.Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.Mr. Studholme and Mr. Redmayne.


Acland, Sir RichardEdwards, W. J. (Stepney)King, Dr. H. M.
Adams, RichardEvans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)Kinley, J.
Albu, A. H.Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)Lee, Frederick (Newton)
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)Ewart, R.Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)
Anderson, Alexander (Motherwell)Fernyhough, E.Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)
Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven)Field, W. J.Lewis, Arthur
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.Fienburgh, W.Lindgren, G. S.
Awbery, S. S.Finch, H. J.Lipton, Lt-Col. M.
Bacon, Miss AliceFletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)Logan, D. G.
Baird, J.Follick, M.MacColl, J. E.
Balfour, A.Foot, M. M.McGhee, H. G.
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.Forman, J. C.McInnes, J.
Bence, C. R.Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)McKay, John (Wallsend)
Bann, WedgwoodFreeman, Peter (Newport)McLeavy, F.
Benson, G.Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)
Beswick, F.Gibson, C. W.McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)Glanville, JamesMacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)
Bing, G. H. C.Gooch, E. G.Mainwaring, W. H.
Blackburn, F.Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)
Blenkinsop, A.Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale)Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)
Blyton, W. R.Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur (Wakefield)Mann, Mrs. Jean
Boardman, H.Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.Manuel, A. C.
Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.Grey, C. F.Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.
Bowden, H. W.Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)Mayhew, C. P.
Bowles, F. G.Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)Mellish, R. J.
Braddock, Mrs. ElizabethGriffiths, William (Exchange)Messer, F.
Brockway, A. F.Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)Mikardo, Ian
Brook, Dryden (Halifax)Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Cone Valley)Mitchison, G. R.
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.Hall, John (Gateshead, W.)Monslow, W.
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)Hamilton, W. W.Moody, A. S.
Brown, Thomas (Ince)Hannan, W.Morley, R.
Burke, W. A.Hardy, E. A.Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)
Burton, Miss F. E.Hargreaves, A.Mort, D. L.
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.)Moyle, A.
Callaghan, L. J.Hastings, S.Mulley, F. W.
Carmichael, J.Hayman, F. H.Murray, J. D.
Castle, Mrs. B. A.Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)Nally, W.
Champion, A. J.Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)Neal, Harold (Bolsover)
Chapman, W. D.Herbison, Miss M.Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J.
Chetwynd, G. R.Hewitson, Capt. M.O'Brien, T.