HC Deb 12 February 1963 vol 671 cc1109-10
29. Mr. David James

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will allow premiums for private health insurance to rate for relief of tax in the same way as do premiums for private pensions.

Mr. Barber

I have noted the suggestion but I cannot anticipate my right hon. Friend's Budget statement.

Mr. James

Is my hon. Friend aware that in modern conditions more and more people would like to paddle their own canoes but are given no encouragement whatever? The National Health Service would benefit if the load on it were reduced.

Mr. Barber

I am sure that my right hon. Friend will bear in mind what has been said, but I would point out that relief is given in respect of premiums paid for private pensions because the benefits which the payer is to receive must emerge in taxable form. The benefits paid under private health insurance schemes are not taxable in the normal way.

Mr. K. Robinson

Will the Minister also consider the position whereby firms pay collective premiums for sickness insurance for their executives, which apparently rank for tax relief? Does he think that this anomaly is justified?

Mr. Barber

That is another aspect of the matter which I am sure my right hon. Friend will bear in mind.

Mr. Denis Howell

Will the hon. Gentleman also bear in mind the fact that these private insurance schemes can operate successfully only because they allow priority use of hospital equipment for private patients or, alternatively—or additionally—because they encourage taking away from the hospital service nurses who are badly needed in that service? On those two grounds, is not this suggestion anti-social?

Mr. Barber

The hon. Member will realise that this is a matter for the Budget, and he will not expect me to comment on it.