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Charges For Services

Volume 887: debated on Tuesday 25 February 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is her policy on increasing existing charges or introducing new charges in order to expand the social services to give greater help to those in greatest need.

I do not believe that income from charges should play a larger part in financing these services than it does at present.

Does the Secretary of State recall that the present basic prescription charge was fixed in April 1971 at 20p? Does she realise that in real terms that charge would have to be fixed at 30p today to match the 1971 figure? Does she realise that as we will be short of money for the health service every possible avenue for money for the social services needs to be examined?

I am in no position to contest the hon. Gentleman's figures. He is merely proving that we are standing by our policy to phase prescription charges out of the National Health Service. That is our policy. In the same way, we refused to increase dental charges even when dental rates rose, thus continuing the policy to which we are committed. I simply disagree with the hon. Gentleman on policy.

Will the right hon. Lady explain how she will replace the revenue which at present she gets from private hospital beds?

In exchange for the phasing out of private beds from the National Health Service I shall get more National Health Service beds.