§ 24. Mr. William Hamilton
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what further proposals he now has for increased National Health Service charges.
Mr. Edward Taylor
Arrangements are being made for an early discussion of the Government's proposals with representatives of the pharmaceutical and medical professions.
§ Mr. Eadie
In giving that answer, the hon. Gentleman must be aware of the mounting concern in Scotland about the proposed increases. Is he aware that pharmacists and their various associations have outrightly condemned increased prescription charges? What sort of co-operation exists between the right hon. Gentleman and the Secretary of State for Social Services in deciding this matter?
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services and I are considering the points which the chemists and doctors have put to us. It would be wrong for me to comment 1364 further until our discussions are complete. However, I repeat the assurance that cost-related prescription charges would not be introduced without the fullest consultation with the profession.
§ Mr. Hamilton
Does the Under-Secretary recall that the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that the intention was to increase prescription charges up to 50p per item? What evidence would the Government require to convince them of the wickedness of such a proposition and the viciousness of the taxation involved?
The White Paper did not summarise the proposals in such detailed form. The proposals which we have put forward, our preliminary thinking, will be discussed with the chemists and the doctors. I assure the hon. Gentleman that the charges will not be introduced without meaningful and full consultation with them.