§ Mr. Latham
To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether he will seek to exempt, with immediate effect, all retirement pensioners from eye test charges; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mrs. Virginia Bottomley
Pensioners as a group have never been automatically exempt from the payment of optical charges since NHS charges were first introduced in 1951. The Government are keen to focus help with sight test charges on those who need it most, and we have therefore ensured that pensioners who are on a low income or who have certain special medical needs, will continue to be entitled to a free NHS sight test. We have no plans to extend entitlement to NHS sight tests to all pensioners regardless of income.