§ Mr. Mudd
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she will consider ways of relieving pensioners, the disabled 421W and those in ill health from having to pay doctors for special certificates enabling them to purchase supplies of domestic coal during the present shortage and distribution difficulties in the light of evidence submitted to her that a 35p charge is being levied for such a certificate.
§ Dr. Owen
A circular issued by the Department of the Environment in February advised that where a coal merchant was in doubt about a claim for priority he might ask the customer to obtain a medical certificate of illness or handicap or might ask the local authority for assistance in verifying claims. A doctor is, however, not bound to give such a certificate under his terms of service and any charges are a matter between doctor and patient.
I regret I have no power to relieve pensioners, the disabled and those in ill health from having to pay doctors for special certificates in these exceptional circumstances. Doctors need not necessarily be involved in verifying claims for priority for the purchase of coal. People who find difficulty in obtaining supplies and consider that they are in a priority category should seek the help of the social services department of the local authority.
If the hon. Member is aware of cases of difficulty perhaps he will write to me and I will look into them.