§ Miss Emma Nicholson
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what was the (i) percentage and (ii) amount of the NHS prescription charge received on each prescription by pharmacists in(a) 1979, (b) 1984, (c) 1987, (d) 1992 and (e) 1996. 
§ Mr. Malone
The available information is shown in the table.
Year Average prescription charge as a percentage of average total cost per prescription Average total cost per prescription £ Average prescription charge during the year (see note 2) £ 1979 13 2.43 0.31 1984 35 4.39 1.55 1987 43 5.46 2.35 1992 48 7.60 3.66 1995 60 8.57 5.13 1 The data used are obtained from the Prescription Pricing Authority PD1 series of forms and cover all prescriptions dispensed by community pharmacists and appliance contractors in England. The number of prescriptions are based on fees. 2 The prescription charges used to obtain the average prescription charge during each year was as follows: 1979 : 1 January to 15 July—£0.20, 16 July to 31 December—£0.45; 1984 : 1 January to 31 March—£1.40, 1 April to 31 December—£1.60; 1987 : 1 January to 31 March—£2.20, 1 April to 31 December—£2.40; 1992 : 1 January to 31 March—£3.40, 1 April to 31 December—£.3.75; 1995 : 1 January to 31 March—£4.75, 1 April to 31 December—£5.25. 3 Information for 1996 is not yet available.
§ Sir Irvine Patnick
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what percentage of all NHS prescriptions issued in Sheffield in the last 12 months for which figures are available were free of charge; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Malone
In the area covered by the Sheffield family health services authority, 85 per cent. of prescription items were dispensed free of charge to patients in 1995.598W
§ Miss Nicholson
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has for the future of resale price maintenance for prescription medicines. 
Mr. John M. Taylor
I have been asked to reply.
Resale price maintenance is unlawful under the Resale Prices Act 1976, subject to the possibility of exemption by the restrictive practices court on public interest grounds. The Director General of Fair Trading announced on 18 October that he was seeking leave of the court to apply for a discharge of its 1970 order in respect of resale price maintenance on ethical and proprietary medicines. If leave is given, it will be for the court to decide whether the 1970 order remains in the public interest. The Secretary of State has no statutory role or discretion in relation to the director-general's application or in relation to the court's consideration of the case.