HC Deb 13 July 1955 vol 543 c1930
42. Dr. King

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will reconsider his decision to cut down the ophthalmologist service in Gibraltar, in view of the heavy incidence of blindness in Gibraltar.

Mr. Hopkinson

No, Sir. Adequate arrangements have been made to maintain this service at the existing standard.

Dr. King

Surely the Minister is aware that representations have been made to him from the Roman Catholic Bishop of Gibraltar and many other people who express alarm that the excellent eye service which his Department has built up is now to shrink because it is to be handed over to the military?

Mr. Hopkinson

The agreement on the ophthalmologist service between the Gibraltar Government and Her Majesty's Government will expire this autumn. We are satisfied that adequate and appropriate arrangements have been made to maintain the service afterwards at its present high standard. That will be done by making use of the military ophthalmologists in Gibraltar and other services which exist.

Mr. Edward Evans

Is the standard definition of blindness in Gibraltar the same as that which applies in this country? There is a definition in the Blind Persons Act, and the figures would be quite valueless unless we had the same standard of comparison—the degree of blindness which is recognised as blindness in this country.

Mr. Hopkinson

I think that is the case, but I should like to look into the matter. Perhaps I may be permitted to write to the hon. Member.