§ Sir E. STOCKTON
asked the Minister of Health whether, in view of the amount of disposable surpluses of approved societies under the National Health Insurance Act, he will consider the desirability of introducing legislation for the allocation of funds therefrom for the hospital maintenance of insured patients, seeing that such a policy would materially contribute towards meeting the total annual deficiency of the voluntary hospitals?
It is open to any approved society having a disposable surplus on valuation to devote the whole or part of such surplus to making payments to hospitals or convalescent homes towards securing the maintenance and treatment therein of members of the society, and out of the surpluses on the first valuation a sum of £979,000 was set aside for this purpose by certain societies in England in respect of the period from July, 1921, to June, 1926. The selection of the additional benefits to be provided by a society for its members rests with the members themselves, and I do not think it desirable that legislation should be introduced to make it compulsory on every society having a disposable surplus to allocate the whole or part of the surplus to any particular additional benefit.
§ Mr. GERALD HURST
asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware of the hardship caused by the disability which now debars voluntary hospitals from sharing in surplus funds which have accumulated under the National Health Insurance Act, and that the Manchester Royal Infirmary spends about £70,000 a year in maintaining nearly 5,000 persons insured under that Act without drawing any substantial contributions from their approved societies; and if he will consider so amending the law that maintenance and treatment at voluntary hospitals may be included among the additional statutory benefits to be provided from disposable surplus funds?
There is no such disability as is mentioned in the first part of my hon. Friend's question and the making of payments toward's the cost of the maintenance and treatment of insured persons at voluntary hospitals is already454W included amongst the additional benefits which may be provided by approved societies from their disposable surplus funds. Such payments are, in fact, being made by a number of societies with a total membership of over 7,000,000 insured persons. The second part of the question does not therefore arise.