HC Deb 17 November 1958 vol 595 c823
18. Mr. G. Jeger

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance whether he is aware that there is confusion in the minds of old-age pensioners about their eligibility for a refund of the cost of National Health prescriptions; and whether he will make a statement to clarify this matter.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Refunds of prescription charges are payments of National Assistance and are therefore made to any pensioner who is in need on National Assistance standards.

Mr. Jeger

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us whether the National Assistance scale takes into account the actual amount spent on prescription charges, which is sometimes in excess of the margin of difference by which the old-age pensioner exceeds the scale laid down by the National Assistance Board? If, for example, he is 2s. over the scale but has a weekly prescription charge of 4s., can he obtain a refund of half of the 4s. or of the full 4s.?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

In general, as I understand, the Board takes the view that if the payment of the prescription charge puts the applicant below the means level involved, then a payment can be made by the Board. But, as this is a rather technical question, I should prefer it if the hon. Member would be kind enough to put it in a precise form on the Order Paper so that there can be no misunderstanding whatever about the answer.

Mr. Bowles

If the old-age pensioner has to pay 2s. for a prescription, can he get from the National Assistance a sum to cover that only?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Not, as I understand it, unless he is in need by Assistance standards, or that 2s. puts him in need by those standards.