§ 14. Mr. Dempsey
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will introduce free prescriptions for a person in the long-term sick category whose sole income is £6.50 weekly invalidity allowance: and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Alison
Anyone whose income is, on supplementary benefit standards. 1119 insufficient to enable him to afford prescription charges, is already entitled to exemption or refund.
§ Mr. Dempsey
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that I have a decision in writing from the manager of the Department of Health and Social Security in Coatbridge informing me that this person is not qualified to receive free prescriptions? Yet the sole income of the individual concerned is only £6.50 per week and out of that meagre sum he has to pay 60p for prescription charges. Is it not a national scandal that a person living on such an allowance should have to pay prescription charges? When is the hon. Gentleman going to introduce some compassion into the National Health Service to ensure that people of this type are exempted completely from prescription charges?
§ Mr. Alison
It sounds a distressing case as related by the hon. Gentleman. If he will send me full details I will look into it. The exemptions are available not only for those on supplementary benefit but for those whose income is less than 50p above the supplementary benefit level.