HC Deb 02 May 1951 vol 487 cc1381-2

Motion made, and Question proposed. "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

Mr. Powell

I want to ask the Minister a question on subsection (2). At an earlier stage of the proceedings he indicated that he had in mind some arrangement whereby patients called upon to pay a charge under the Bill would have automatically brought to their attention their possible opportunity of obtaining a National Assistance grant in partial or total aid towards that payment. The question I want to put to the right hon. Gentleman is this. I realise that the regulations which will govern the procedure to reclaim charges will be made, not under the principal Act, but under the National Assistance Act, and I imagine that new regulations will be required under the National Assistance Act as a result of the amendment to that Act which we are making in this Clause.

I want to ask whether, in the making of these new regulations under the National Assistance Act, the Minister can and will arrange that the application for the grant may be made, not as a separate operation between the patient and the Assistance Board, but can be brought into direct connection with the levying of the charge under this Bill. If regulations under the 1948 Act can be made to bring that in, then a great deal of the criticism, although not all, which has been levelled in the course of the Committee stage against the use of the National Assistance Board for assessing needs will fall away. Therefore, I think the possibility of achieving something like that by National Assistance regulations deserves careful consideration. I realise that the Minister cannot be expected to give an undertaking or information one way or another this morning. Therefore, I am proposing to put down an Amendment on the Report stage to enable him to give an answer which he would not otherwise be able to do, and, if I may use the expression, to concentrate his mind on the problem in the meantime.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.