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Minister Of Health (Lecture)

Volume 649: debated on Thursday 16 November 1961

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asked the Prime Minister whether the Lloyd Roberts lecture given by the Minister of Health to the Royal Society of Medicine on the subject of expenditure on the National Health Service represents the policy of Her Majesty's Government.

My right hon. Friend the Minister of Health made no pronouncements of policy in this lecture.

Is the Prime Minister aware that the impression has been given by this speech that it has been announced that Government policy will be to restrict the increase of expenditure on the National Health Service to a rate of 2½ per cent. for the next four years? Is he further aware that that has had wide publication in medical journals and that the Health Service will be given the impression that it is Government policy so to restrict? Is he further aware that if the Government were to decide to restrict to this rate of 2½ per cent., in terms of real money that would mean an actual decrease and the Health Service would have to be cut?

That raises much wider questions. As I understand it, my right hon. Friend delivered a carefully thought-out lecture, with many interesting philosophic observations, advancing the thesis that there were no objective criteria by reference to which the right level of total Health Service expenditure could be determined. It was intended to be not a declaration of policy, but a lecture on a very interesting and serious subject.