HC Deb 08 February 1960 vol 617 c23
38. Mrs. Castle

asked the Minister of Health whether he will waive the prescription charge for old-age pensioners who, by working beyond the retirement age, earn a higher basic old-age pension and so deprive themselves of the entitlement to National Assistance.

Mr. Walker-Smith

Pensioners who have earned a higher basic retirement pension are not ipso facto deprived of entitlement to National Assistance or of help with prescription charges, and cases of need are considered individually by the National Assistance Board.

Mrs. Castle

Is the Minister aware that we on this side of the House believe that the prescription charge should be abolished altogether in order to avoid many of the anomalies which arise? One of the frequent anomalies is that there are old-age pensioners who are not getting an income any higher than they would have done on National Assistance but who are being denied the refund of their prescription charges because they work longer in order to earn some additional money?

Mr. Walker-Smith

Entitlement to refund is related to need and it is administered by the National Asistance Board. Any attempt automatically to exempt particular sections of the community would create inequalities between one group and another.

On the first part of the hon. Lady's supplementary question, I have more than once stated to the House the Government's position in this matter; that is to say, that we shall review the question of the prescription charge at the end of the two-year period of voluntary limitation on prescription of drugs, as recommended by Sir Henry Hinchliffe's Committee.