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Prescription Charges

Volume 644: debated on Monday 10 July 1961

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asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance what is the number of cases, at the latest date, in which refunds of prescription charges have been made to applicants not in receipt of National Assistance since the higher charges were imposed last March; and whether he will make a statement on the working of existing arrangements for refunds in this type of case.


asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance how many persons, not in receipt of a weekly allowance from the National Assistance Board, have claimed and how many have received repayment of prescription charges since 1st March until the latest available date.

I would refer the hon. Gentlemen to the answers which my right hon. Friend gave on Friday to their hon. Friend the Member for St. Pancras, North (Mr. K. Robinson).

Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that the number of pensioners who are just above the poverty line, and, therefore, do not come within the scheme for receiving repayments for the charges, is reaching such proportions that the Minister in charge of the well-being of pensioners ought to urge his colleagues in the Cabinet to give all pensioners prescriptions free of charge, or at any rate not apply to them the increase which is operating this year?

The question as to on wham the prescription charges fall is for my right hon. Friends the Minister of Health and the Secretary of State for Scotland and not for me, but I certainly do not draw the same inference from the facts disclosed in the answer to which I made reference as the hon. Gentleman appears to do.


asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance if he will estimate the cost to the National Assistance Board of administering the repayment of prescription charges and other National Health Service charges, respectively, in the current year.

Will not the right hon. Gentleman agree, in the light of what we know about the position so far, that this might not be the best way to bring relief to people who need medicines and prescriptions? Is he further aware that there are a number of people who have saved all their lives, thereby enabling themselves to have a small additional private income, who now feel very bitter because they are completely excluded? Would it not make more sense and save time and trouble to abolish this type of scheme and to make all prescriptions free of charge to old-age pensioners in general?

This is not a matter for me. I answered this Question only because the system of refund is through the National Assistance Board for whose operation I am answerable to the House.