HC Deb 20 June 1966 vol 730 cc26-7
43. Sir Clive Bossom

asked the Minister of Health whether he will now introduce legislation to make oral contraceptives available on the National Health Service on social as well as medical grounds, as it is becoming impossible for voluntary organisations such as the Family Planning Association to deal with this growing need.

Mr. K. Robinson

As the hon. Member is aware, a Bill to extend the powers of local health authorities in relation to family planning has been introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Bebington (Mr. Brooks).

I would not, however, think it right that contraceptives supplied on social grounds should be provided without charge.

Sir Clive Bossom

Cannot the Minister go a little further than that? On 19th May, at a national conference, he left the impression with delegates that he was more than sympathetic with this. In view of that, could he not take some action?

Mr. Robinson

I do not know what the hon. Gentleman says that I was sympathetic about. I was certainly sympathetic with the aims and the objectives of the Family Planning Association, and the circular which I sent recently to local authorities encouraged them to extend their family planning advice services. That does not involve the supply of contraceptives free of charge.

Dr. Summerskill

Would not my right hon. Friend discourage the use of all oral contraceptives on both medical and social grounds, because considerable uncertainty still exists as to their freedom from dangerous side-effects?

Mr. Robinson

No, Sir. The recent statement made on behalf of the Dunlop Committee did not suggest that oral contraceptives should be withdrawn from the public.

Mrs. Renée Short

Is my right hon. Friend aware that some general practitioners require the written consent of husbands before prescribing the oral contraceptive pill to women patients? Will he issue a directive to general practitioners to stop that feudal practice?—[Interruption.]

Mr. Robinson

I am not sure that that this is a matter for me. If my hon. Friend would like to put a Question on the Order Paper, I would be glad to consider it.

Mr. Shinwell

Can my right hon. Friend give an assurance that this will not be regarded by our critics as a split in the party?