HC Deb 01 March 1951 vol 484 cc2287-8
42. Mr. Black

asked the Minister of Health what is the total sum under the National Health Service Act now owing to chemists; and whether the new procedure is resulting in quicker settlements.

82. Mr. Butcher

asked the Minister of Health how far his Department is in arrear in the pricing and paying of chemists' accounts.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health (Mr. Blenkinsop)

The amount due at 31st January last in respect of prescriptions dispensed to the end of December, 1950, is estimated at about £3,500,000. The current procedure is accelerating the rate of pricing, but I am afraid that final settlements are not yet made more quickly. They are now about nine months in arrears. but substantial payments on account are, of course, made monthly.

Mr. Butcher

Can the hon. Gentleman tell us of any private business which is nine months behind in checking its accounts and paying them?

Mr. Blenkinsop

I ought to make it clear that, because of the very large amounts that are paid out. on account, chemists are not in any worse position then they would be in if the accounts were up to date.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

Is not this highly discreditable to the Ministry of Health? What is to happen to those who have recently set up in business as chemists, as opposed to those who have more ample resources behind them?

Mr. Blenkinsop

As I have already said, we make very substantial payments on account and that ensures that the chemists are not in any acute difficulty.