HC Deb 28 June 1965 vol 715 cc20-2
28. Mr. Pavitt

asked the Minister of Health if he will introduce regulations to ensure that doctors wishing to resign from the local executive council's list shall submit such resignations personally in order to avoid the possibility of the resignations which were signed six months ago in one set of circumstances now being sent in when circumstances have changed.

Mr. K. Robinson

I have noted my hon. Friend's suggestion, but I doubt if such a change is necessary.

In the circumstances envisaged by my hon. Friend, it would be open to any doctor to request the executive council to disregard a notice sent in on his behalf.

Mr. Pavitt

The safeguard which the Minister has announced in his Answer will be welcomed, but is he aware that, during the time when the pressure was on, quite a number of doctors were almost intimidated into putting their notices in and it is, therefore, most desirable, now that temperatures have cooled a little, that there should be a breathing space before they are actually applied?

Mr. Robinson

I had a certain amount of information about alleged intimidation, but I think that, as my hon. Friend's question implies, these resignations are very much out of date now, having been collected for the most part during February and March.

Mr. Frederic Harris

There is confusion in the public mind at the moment about the exact position of the doctors vis-à-vis the Minister of Health. Will the Minister be in a position at an early date to make a clear statement to the country as a whole of what the real position is?

Mr. Robinson

With your permission, Mr. Speaker, perhaps I may make a clear statement now. The fact is that the conference of local medical committees on 16th June and the special representative meeting of the B.M.A. on 23rd June voted against submitting the resignations, and therefore the question of resignation does not now arise. The negotiators are empowered to continue negotiating with me, and I have no reason to believe that these negotiations will not be brought to a successful conclusion in time for implementation by April next.

Mr. Will Griffiths

In view of what my right hon. Friend has just said about the decision of the doctors' representatives recently about withdrawing their notices, may I ask whether he would regard the notices given some months ago as valid if they were to be used in the future?

Mr. Robinson

I think that the question posed by my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Exchange (Mr. Will Griffiths) is hypothetical for the reasons that I have just given. I can only repeat that if any doctor felt that his resignation was no longer valid and it was sent in, it would be a simple matter for him to write to the executive council saying, "Please disregard my notice."