HC Deb 23 February 1971 vol 812 c304
24. Mr. Ellis

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what percentage fall-off in dental treatment was noted by his Dental Rates Study Group when charges for treatment were first introduced and when the basic charge was increased from £1 to £1 10s., respectively; and whether the advice of the study group has been sought on the effects of the new charges which take effect in April, 1971.

Sir K. Joseph

For adults, a fall of 5 per cent. in 1952, but this was quickly recovered and the number of courses has continued to increase steadily since then—with no reduction when the charges were increased in 1968. Consultations with the Dental Rates Study Group would not have been necessary or appropriate.

Mr. Ellis

In view of the alarming fall which occurred following the comparatively small increase in charges, does not the right hon. Gentleman agree with the dental profession's justifiable alarm at the prospects when his proposals come into force shortly? Would not he agree that, if he were to consult the Study Group and its advice were in line with that of previous authorities, it would be wiser for him to reconsider his decision?

Sir K. Joseph

Certainly the dental profession is concerned, but I think that its concern is misplaced. I am sure that there will be a slight dip but that it will be recovered and that the increase of treatment will then continue.

Dr. Miller

Does not the right lion. Gentleman realise that he is hiding behind the statistics? While there may be a slight drop, it is completely accounted for by a section of the population which most requires attention to teeth.

Sir K. Joseph

I have no evidence of that. When the House takes into account the sharp increase in the income at which exemption will be available, it will realise that the dental profession's fears are misplaced.