HC Deb 03 May 1937 vol 323 c784
50. Mr. de Rothschild

asked the Minister of Health whether he will introduce legislation to amend the National Health Insurance Acts so as to increase the amount of maternity benefit payable by approved societies, seeing that the Midwives Act, 1936, by making compulsory the attendance of a qualified midwife at all confinements, throws an added financial burden on insured contributors at such times?

Mr. R. S. Hudson

The position of a woman entitled to maternity benefit as regards the arrangements for attendance at her confinement is not materially affected by the provisions of the Midwives Act, 1936. The National Health Insurance Acts have always contemplated that such a woman should be attended either by a medical practitioner or a qualified midwife. Moreover, the Midwives Act expressly provides that the fees charged by local authorities for the services of their midwives may be remitted in whole or in part where the circumstances justify such remission. My right hon. Friend does not, therefore, consider that the coming into operation of the new Midwives Act affords any reason for the suggested amendment of the National Health Insurance Act.

Mr. George Griffiths

Is the hon. Member not aware that independent midwives now are paid a fee of 1os., and that they are taking away the maternity benefit? Will not the Minister see that maternity benefits are raised by at least another 15s.?

Mr. Hudson

It is unnecessary to do that, because the woman will be able to obtain the services of a qualified midwife under the arrangements of the Midwives Act at a price within her means.