HC Deb 28 July 1949 vol 467 cc2637-8
11. Mr. Marples

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that officers and men of the Merchant Navy pay Income Tax and National Insurance contributions but are unable to receive any health treatment when they are at sea or abroad in port; and, in view of the fact that the stay in a foreign port is a suitable moment for certain treatment, what action does he propose to take to remedy this state of affairs.

Mr. Blenkinsop

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for Stone (Mr. H. Fraser) on 7th April.

Mr. Marples

Does the hon. Gentleman consider it fair that these men should pay the same contribution as the rest of the public, and yet be prevented from receiving the same benefit by reason of the type of their employment? Will he look into the matter again?

Mr. Blenkinsop

We have been looking into the question of dental services, as it was suggested that they were not adequate. Although there is no general complaint we are willing to look into individual cases.

Mr. Keenan

Is my hon. Friend aware of the difficulty that seafarers are in if they have to get treatment abroad? In such a case the cost is deducted from their pay, and should not something be done to meet that cost?

Mr. Drayson

Have we any reciprocal arrangement with foreign Governments whereby they give medical service to our nationals such as they are able to receive over here?

Mr. Blenkinsop

If the hon. Member will look at the earlier Question to which I have referred he will see that negotiations are proceeding.

Mr. Marples

Will the hon. Gentleman go into the whole question again, because seafaring people spend from 70 to 80 per cent. of their time abroad and are prevented from receiving full benefits although they pay the same contributions as anybody else?

Mr. Blenkinsop indicated assent.