§ 20. Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer 187 whether he will consider authorising the purchase of the right to post-war credits within five years of their maturing by the banks or by other authorised financial institutions.
§ Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett
Is my right hon. Friend aware that that is a rather disappointing Answer for some people? What would be the objection to an arrangement of this nature, bearing in mind that in France, for example, similar debts of individuals are sometimes paid in the form of post-dated bonds?
It would be very difficult to do administratively. Every one of these claims before it is effective has to be checked in detail. It would create more rigidity and make it more difficult for the Government to change the conditions for repayment if we found ourselves able to do so, for example, by advancing the age for repayment.
§ 22. Mr. E. Johnson
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is aware that £9 million has been paid out in cases of hardship to doctors in advance of their retirement under the National Health Service scheme for compensating doctors for the loss of the right to sell the goodwill of their practices; and if he will adopt similar criteria for judging hardship in order to repay post-war credits in cases where such hardship exists.
I regret that my hon. Friend's suggestion would not provide a satisfactory basis for repayment of postwar credits.
§ Mr. Johnson
Is my right hon. Friend aware that many hon. Members are trying to help him in his difficulty of defining hardship? Would he say in what way the standards adopted by his Department differ from those adopted by the Ministry of Health and by the National Assistance Board?
In the case of doctors the circumstances are very different. It is a question of interpreting hardship in a very much narrower field than in these cases. I think that summarises the difficulties.
I certainly subscribe to the attribute that the hon. Gentleman applied to men, but I would remind him that the qualifying ages are not based on expectancy of life.
No, Sir. Mr. Yates has not reached the qualifying age, and I have no power to authorise repayment in his case.
I agree with the hon. Gentleman that this clearly is a distressing case. The difficulty that all Governments have found is that of drawing the line. There are so many distressing cases that it is difficult to define when a case ceases to be distressing. I have explained how unhappy I am not to be able to meet cases like that. I am once again looking into the position to see whether it is possible to devise any system where lines can be drawn sensibly and satisfactorily, but I am not hopeful.