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Prescription Charges

Volume 21: debated on Monday 29 March 1982

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will publish in the Official Report a table showing for each year from 1947 to 1981 (a) the prescription charge in current money terms, where applicable, (b the prescription charge expressed in 1980 prices, (c) the proportion of the adult population exempted from such charges and (d) the proportion of the total population exempted from such charges.

The table following gives the information requested about the prescription charge from 1947 to 1981 in current money terms and expressed in 1980 prices. It is not possible to provide information on the number of people who might be exempt from prescription charges. In 1981 in England 300 million prescriptions were dispensed and of these about 68 per cent. were dispensed free-of-charge under the exemption arrangements and a further 6 per cent. to holders of season tickets.

Prescription charge


Nominal value

Value in 1980 prices (pence)

1 April 1971·20p per item197118·1259·72
16 July 1979 45p per item197931·4537·10
1 April 1980 70p per item198066·2566·25
1 December 1980 100p per item1981100·0089·33


1. For years in which the charge was changed in the course of the year, the values above are weighted average according to the number of months at each rate.

2. Nominal values converted to average 1980 prices according to movements in the retail price index.

3. No allowance is made for the change in the nature of the prescription charge from a charge per form to a charge per item in 1956.