HC Deb 06 April 1982 vol 21 c815
6. Mr. Haynes

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what representations he has received about the increase in optical charges.

The Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Security (Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg)

I have received representations from about 20 organisations and individuals about the increase in optical charges.

Mr. Haynes

Is the Minister aware that there have been regular exhibitions at the Dispatch Box of compassion for the less well off? I am prompted to ask: is the Minister aware that the Government have failed miserably? Does he support the Government's promises—which have been broken—not to increase charges faster than inflation?

Mr. Finsberg

The hon. Gentleman seems incapable of understanding White Papers. If he understood them, he would realise that they referred in detail to the current year's expenditure.

Mr. Peter Bottomley

Does my hon. Friend agree that we cannot be satisfied with the level of optical charges levied by the NHS until competition in the private sector has reduced those charges to the levels operating in the United State of America?

Mr. Finsberg

As my hon. Friend knows, the Office of Fair Trading is investigating certain aspects relating to opticians. We hope that the report will be ready in the autumn, and we shall study it as a matter of urgency.

Mr. Terry Davis

Will the Minister confirm that the increase in charges is greater than the increase in costs?

Mr. Finsberg

Yes, Sir.