HC Deb 29 February 1960 vol 618 cc820-3
26. Commander Pursey

asked the Minister of Health if he will arrange with the authorities of the House to display in the House of Commons the present complete range of 41 National Health Service spectacle frames, with their alternative trade colours, and prices, in three display cases, for children and normal and abnormal adults.

Miss Pitt

My right hon. and learned Friend is arranging for display of the range of spectacles in the Upper Waiting Hall for a week from Monday, 7th March.

Commander Pursey

Might I say "thank you" for that and then ask whether the Minister will also arrange to show the proposed new range in colours of National Health Service frames in this House before he makes his decision, so that hon. Members will see what their constituents will have to pay for under the National Health Service scheme?

Miss Pitt

I told the hon. and gallant Gentleman in last Monday's debate that we were reviewing the frames, but that review can take place only as a result of the examination of prescriptions in November and we should not be in a position by next Monday to put Vie new frames on show. I have, however, also asked that the prices should be attached to the frames. I think the hon. and gallant Gentleman will be pleasantly surprised at the variety and colour shown.

27. Commander Pursey

asked the Minister of Health whether he will consider taking steps to encourage welfare services committees, women's voluntary services, and citizen's advice bureaux to inform 250,000 people with Woolworth spectacles that they can obtain National Health Service spectacles for £1 10s. 3d.

Miss Pitt

My right hon. and learned Friend will bear in mind this suggestion in considering the supply of information to members of the public.

Commander Pursey

Is there not something wrong with the Ministry of Health publicity when after 12 years of the National Health Service scheme hundreds of thousands of people still do not know that they can get a free sight test, lenses at 10s. each and a perfectly good frame for 30s.—the best spectacle proposition in the world? Will the Minister arrange for further information to be promulgated so that these people may take advantage of the National Health Service scheme?

Miss Pitt

I do not accept the first part of the hon. and gallant Gentleman's supplementary question. I am sure that the average person knows that he can have a sight test and glasses under the National Health Service. What he may not know is the full details of the range available, and I would not expect him to until he was in need of glasses. However, I promised in last Monday's debate that my right hon. and learned Friend would consider the information available, and I repeat that promise.

Miss Lee

Will the hon. Lady consider making it obligatory for all opticians to have on show the full range of National Health Service spectacles?

Miss Pitt

My right hon. and learned Friend is considering whether we should request opticians to display the range of frames, but whether that would go so far as to be obligatory is another question.

Hon. Members


31. Mr. Emrys Hughes

asked the Minister of Health to what extent he has studied recent methods of improving eyesight without the use of spectacles.

Miss Pitt

If the hon. Member has in mind systems of exercises to strengthen the eye muscles. I am advised that, while these have proved of benefit in cases where the muscles are weak, as in squint, there is no reliable evidence that defects of vision such as myopia or astigmatism can be beneficially treated by these means.

Mr. Hughes

Has the hon. Lady noticed the conduct of her right hon. and learned Friend during Questions? He has a pair of spectacles which he takes off and puts on, and the answers he gives are far better when he does not wear his spectacles. That also applies to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.

Is the hon. Lady aware that there is considerable literature by enlightened people now who are sceptical about the use of spectacles? Will she consider appointing a committee without any opticians or people with vested interests on it so that this matter can be properly investigated and hon. Members will be able to see their Order Papers without wearing spectacles?

Miss Pitt

The hon. Member does not credit those of us who are long-sighted with the facility to read without recourse to glasses. Seriously, however, there is no new evidence available, so far as I am aware. If the hon. Member is aware of any, I am sure my right hon. and learned Friend would be ready to consider it.