HC Deb 28 April 1936 vol 311 cc746-7W

asked the Minister of Health (1) how many men and women, approximately, are entitled to dental benefit at the rate of 50 per cent., more than 50 per cent., less than 100 per cent., and 100 per cent. of the cost of treatment, respectively; and how many men and women so entitled in each category actually received treatment during 1934; (2) whether he is aware that the amount spent on dental benefit under the National Health Insurance Acts has fallen steadily from £2,425,000 in 1930 to £1,791,000 in 1934, whereas the sum of £2,437,000 was available in that year for dental benefit; and whether, in view of the need for an extension of dental benefit to all insured persons, he will initiate special inquiry into the position; (3) whether he is aware that, out of an insured population of 12,000,000 men and 6,000,000 women, only 9,000,000 men and 2,000,000 women are at present entitled to dental benefit, and of the 11,000,000 persons thus eligible only 700,000 received treatment of any kind during 1934; and whether, in view of this evidence that the dental benefit scheme is not meeting the needs of insured persons, he will initiate a special inquiry into the position?


The figures given by my hon. and gallant Friend are approximately correct. As he is aware, however, dental benefit can be provided under the National Health Insurance Act only by an approved society which has a disposable surplus on valuation and which elects to include it in its scheme of additional benefits. It is estimated that about two-thirds of the insured persons entitled to dental benefit are covered by schemes which provide for the payment of 50 per cent. of the cost of treatment. The proportion of the total entitled to receive the full cost of dental treatment is very small. No particulars are available as to the numbers of men and women in the various categories referred to, and to obtain this information it would be necessary to ask for a return from each of the 5,000 societies and branches which provide the benefit. The Royal Commission on National Health Insurance in 1926 reported that the provision of dental benefit as a statutory benefit available to all insured persons could be met only by an increase in the contributions, and nothing has since arisen to alter that conclusion. I am not therefore prepared to institute a special inquiry as suggested by my hon. and gallant Friend.