HC Deb 23 November 1964 vol 702 cc904-5
23 and 24. Mr. Abse

asked the Minister of Health (1) when, with a view to strengthening family life, he proposes to include general facilities for family planning advice and treatment in the National Health Service in accordance with the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Population; and whether he will now consider removing the particular restrictions upon local authority clinics which the Royal Commission stated were preventing the clinics from dealing with the major evils caused by faulty knowledge of contraception;

(2) if, in view of the high rate of induced abortion among married women and the large numbers of unwanted children coming into public care, he will urge local health authorities to publicise family planning clinics held on local authority premises and to inform mothers of available family planning facilities through the medium of health visitors.

Mr. Robinson

As well as paying for contraceptive advice in cases where there are medical reasons against a further pregnancy, local health authorities now commonly provide premises free, or at a nominal charge, for family planning clinics which are not restricted in this way. I believe that the facilities available at these clinics are made widely known and I would hope that local health authorities will not place any restrictions on this. I propose to consider what more needs to be done.

Mr. Abse

Will my right hon. Friend consider in particular whether he can take administrative action which will do away with the inhibition which now exists and enable these facilities to be given in the event of a belief that a further pregnancy will endanger the life of the mother? Is it not high time that we got rid of the present coy attitude and gave these facilities to all married women requiring them?

Mr. Robinson

I do not believe that the present situation is as restrictive as my hon. Friend suggests, but I assure him that I am not out of sympathy with his general objectives. That is why I propose to consider whether more needs to be done by way of providing facilities and making their existence known. I want to make it quite clear that I regard family planning advice as an important part of health education.

Mr. William Hamilton

Will my right hon. Friend be much more specific than that and accept the recommendation of the Royal Commission on Population, made more than 15 years ago? Has he any notion of introducing legislation to modernise the law on abortion?

Mr. Robinson

Reform of the law of abortion is a question for my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department and not for me. To extend National Health Service facilities to all who want contraceptive advice, treatment and appliances would imply a free service, which could be extremely costly.