HC Deb 09 May 1966 vol 728 cc19-20
14. Mr. Will Griffiths

asked the Minister of Health if he will introduce legislation to abolish the charges for dentures and spectacles supplied under the National Health Service imposed in 1951.

Mr. K. Robinson

The Government will consider the removal of these charges when economic circumstances permit. There is, however, no early prospect of removal.

Mr. Griffiths

Will my right hon. Friend give an assurance that it remains Government policy to end this and other National Health Service charges? If there is any evidence that the Government are dragging their feet will he have a word with the Prime Minister about it, because the Prime Minister felt very strongly about these matters in 1951?

Mr. Robinson

I can assure my hon. Friend that the Government adhere to the principles of a free health service. They removed the prescription charge as a first major step towards this. This was regarded as having the strongest case for abolition. The timing of the removal of other charges must depend on priorities, and upon economic growth.

Mr. Dean

How does the right hon. Gentleman reconcile that statement with his agreement to the introduction of a new charge for certain prescriptions for women?

Mr. Robinson

There is a later Question specifically relating to that matter.