HC Deb 06 November 1961 vol 648 cc614-5
34. Mr. Elwyn Jones

asked the Minister of Health with what countries the United Kingdom as made reciprocal arrangements for the provision of medical and hospital services to their respective subjects.

46. Mr. du Cann

asked the Minister of Health if he will publish in the OFFICIAL REPORT a statement showing with what foreign Governments he has negotiated free medical services equivalent to the National Health Service for British residents and visitors abroad; and what future steps he intends to take in this regard.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health (Miss Edith Pitt)

Besides the arrangements detailed in my right hon. Friend's reply of 6th March to my hon. Friend, the Member for Ilford, South (Mr. Cooper), an arrangement has been made with West Germany, covering our nationals insured in that country, and their dependants. My right hon. Friend, the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance has constantly in mind the possibilities of making revised or additional agreements.

Mr. Jones

Are these arrangements working satisfactorily, and are there any prospects of extending these civilised provisions to other countries?

Miss Pitt

The arrangements are working satisfactorily. As I have just said, negotiations—which usually take place through the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance—are constantly in mind.

Mr. du Cann

Does not my hon. Friend think that to make arrangements of this sort is a much better way of dealing with the problem of foreigners coming to the United Kingdom and using our facilities than suggesting, for instance, that we should tighten up controls on the system? Does she not think, therefore, that the best thing that her Department can possibly do is to ensure that as many of of these reciprocal arrangements as possible are made as quickly as possible?

Miss Pitt

Yes, Sir, but one of the major difficulties is that so few countries have a health service comparable with our own.

Mr. Bellenger

On what date did the arrangement with Western Germany come into force, and may I declare my own interest in this matter?

Miss Pitt

It came into force two or three months ago. I will give the right hon. Gentleman the specific date.