HC Deb 09 March 1970 vol 797 cc889-90
8. Mrs. Renée Short

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when he expects replies from local health authorities and regional hospital boards to his request for information about the extent of their family planning services.

56. Mr. St. John-Stevas

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he will make a statement on his request for information on family planning services, addressed to local health authorities and regional hospital boards

Mr. Crossman

The first returns from local health authorities should be available in the early autumn. Replies from hospital authorities are already reaching me.

Mrs. Short

Would my right hon. Friend bear in mind that but for the Abortion Act another 20,000 illegitimate, unwanted babies would have been born last year? Does not this indicate the greatest possible need for help, advice and the supply of contraceptive devices under the National Health Service without charge as soon as possible? Therefore, instead of waiting for all the replies to come in, will my right hon. Friend take steps to ensure that this is done for all women seeking this advice?

Mr. Crossman

Part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question was very remote from the matter about which I was asked. I should like my hon. Friend to note that in the Green Paper we propose transfer responsibility for family planning from the local authorities to the new health services. I am sure that this will create a far more effective service. If we had unlimited money, there is nothing better that I should like to see than the principle of a free Health Service applied to family planning.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

Does the right hon. Gentleman recall saying in July that he was on the warpath in this matter? Who has won the war? Is it not a crazy social policy to make family planning difficult and abortion easy? Will the right hon. Gentleman dissociate himself from his hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Renée Short) in her new Victorian prudery in condemning illegitimacy in the terms in which she has spoken?

Mrs. Short


Mr. Crossman

I do not want to intervene in the internecine war on the back benches on the pros and cons of illegitimacy. However, I think that the right hon. Gentleman is right in rebuking me on the subject of my reply last July. I have been disappointed by the response of the local authorities, but I cannot blame them because they are very short of money. I am therefore driven to the conclusion that the solution in the Green Paper is right. This matter should be part of the National Health Service and provided for out of taxation.

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