HC Deb 02 May 1955 vol 540 cc1325-7
30. Mrs. Castle

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that political party organisations are asking doctors for lists of patients for the purpose of the postal vote at the General Election; and if he will instruct National Health Service doctors to refuse to give this information in respect of National Health Service patients.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health (Miss Patricia Hornsby-Smith)

My right hon. Friend is certainly not aware of any such arrangements.

Mrs. Castle

Will the hon. Lady inform her right hon. Friend that I have in my hand circular letters from Conservative associations to local doctors in their areas asking them to supply the Conservative Party with the names of blind, sick and aged patients on their registers in order that they may be contacted with a view to their having a postal vote? One of these letters, from the Hornsey Conservative Association, states: Mr. David Gammans, M.P., is particularly anxious that this should be done as the new electoral law severely restricts the number of cars to take electors to the poll in a General Election. In view of this, will the hon. Lady ask her right hon. Friend to institute an immediate inquiry and inform the doctors that this is contrary to professional etiquette and their duty to their patients?

Miss Hornsby-Smith

If the hon. Lady will let my right hon. Friend have the evidence, I can assure her that he will look into the matter. The vote is secret and, in their individual capacity, it is certainly helpful to see that as many as possible obtain their vote.

Mr. H. Morrison

Will the hon. Lady, on behalf of her right hon. Friend, give an assurance that neither directly nor indirectly will those associated with the National Health Service be co-operators with any political party organisation in connection with the forthcoming Election? Is she aware that there was the strongest impression at the last Election that such malpractices took place?

Miss Hornsby-Smith

I can certainly give the assurance that the Health Service will not be used in this way.

Mr. Russell

Would not my hon. Friend agree that, if this is done for both parties, it is in the interests of the electors that they should obtain a postal vote if they cannot go to the polls?

Mr. W. R. Williams

In view of the fact that the name of the Assistant Postmaster-General has been specifically mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn, East (Mrs. Castle), will the hon. Lady ask her right hon. Friend the Minister immediately to contact the Assistant Postmaster-General to find whether it is true that he has done this? If so, will the Minister take action immediately with the Prime Minister with a view to the removal of the Assistant Postmaster-General?

Miss Hornsby-Smith

I have already said that if the hon. Member for Blackburn, East (Mrs. Castle) will let my right hon. Friend have the evidence, he will certainly look into it.

Mr. H. Morrison

In view of the important allegations of my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn, East (Mrs. Castle) and others, will the Minister of Health be good enough to make expeditious and immediate inquiries and make a statement a little later in the week?

Mr. Iain Macleod

Of course I will look into this at once. Whether I make a statement upon it depends on what I find when I look into it.