HC Deb 19 October 1939 vol 352 cc1040-1
51. Mr. Gordon Macdonald

asked the Minister of Health what action is being taken in view of the increased cost of living to make provision for extra financial benefits for persons in receipt of National Health Insurance?

Mr. Elliot

The scheme of National Health Insurance is framed on an actuarial basis, under which the benefits are such as can be provided in return for the contributions supplemented by the proportionate State grant, and a general increase in the rates of benefit could, therefore, only be provided by an increase of the weekly contributions payable by the employed persons and their employers. I would point out that the statutory rates of benefit were raised to their present level in July, 1920, when the cost of living index figure was 152 per cent, above the July, 1914 level as compared with the present figure of 65.

Mr. Macdonald

Does the right hon. Gentleman intend to convey to the House that the present position of these people is satisfactory, and is he not prepared to take any action to relieve the hardship on these people?

Mr. Elliot

If approved societies and the hon. Member make representations that the contribution should be raised, I shall take that into account, but obviously the contributions of employers and employed would have to be raised to cover these extra benefits.

Mr. Rhys Davies

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that the State finances the subsidy for this, and why does he not suggest that the Treasury should assist?

Mr. Elliot

It is admitted that this insurance scheme is a partnership between three parties, and it cannot be suggested that one partner should carry all the expense.