HC Deb 24 March 1958 vol 585 cc27-8
44. Mr. Gresham Cooke

asked the Minister of Health with what countries, Commonwealth as well as foreign, reciprocal agreements have now been concluded over National Health Service benefits.

Mr. Walker-Smith

General reciprocity exists with Sweden, and will exist with Norway from 1st April next, whereby British nationals, including tourists, may use the health services of those countries on the same terms as their own nationals. Limited reciprocity exists with France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands under which British nationals who participate in the social insurance schemes of those countries can have their United Kingdom insurance taken into account in reckoning their entitlement to medical benefit. In addition, arrangements have been made with Guernsey and Alderney and with Jersey for medical facilities for British visitors.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

As this is rather a small list of countries, having regard to the large number of countries from which tourists and aliens visit this country, can my right hon. Friend give an assurance that further efforts will be made to widen the list to include places such as Switzerland and also countries in the Commonwealth?

Mr. Walker-Smith

Yes, Sir, but the limits of reciprocity are set by what is available to the other country's nationals. Nevertheless, my hon. Friend may be glad to know that general reciprocity is under discussion at the present time with Denmark, Finland and Yugoslavia. Limited agreements have been signed and await ratification with Belgium and the Federal Republic of Germany and an agreement with Austria is under discussion.

Mr. Snow

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that the House at large will welcome his attitude on this matter as opposed to the xenophobic and mean attitude of some back bench Members opposite?