HC Deb 10 February 1964 vol 689 cc29-30
31. Mr. K. Robinson

asked the Minister of Health if he will publish the names of those consultants who are in receipt of merit awards, indicating the category of award in each case.

The Minister of Health (Mr. Anthony Barber)

No, Sir.

Mr. Robinson

Does not the Minister realise that the partial removal of secrecy from this system of merit awards has been a wholly healthy thing for the medical profession, and does not he think that the time has come to complete the job as I suggest? Can the right hon. Gentleman point to any other comparable category of persons remunerated from public funds whose individual salaries are kept secret from the taxpayer?

Mr. Barber

When the Question appeared on the Order Paper, I tried to consider it on its merits. As the hon. Gentleman knows, it has not been the practice to publish details of remuneration of individuals employed in the National Health Service, and, of course, distinction awards are simply one element of remuneration. This matter was considered by the Royal Commission, as the hon. Gentleman knows, and it said that it agreed unreservedly that the names of individual award holders should not be published. Having considered this carefully in the light of the hon. Gentleman's question, I must say that I think it right.

Mr. Snow

One can understand that there may be good reasons for secrecy, but is the Minister aware that there is some feeling among consultants that, for instance, anaesthetists may not be getting fair recognition of their invaluable services and tint this matter really should be looked into again?

Mr. Barber

Additional information is published now not only about the geographical spread of awards but also about their distribution between specialties.