HC Deb 30 April 1953 vol 514 cc2341-2
40. Mr. H. A. Price

asked the Minister of Health whether he is yet able to make a statement on the question of increased National Health Service fees for dentists.

Mr. Iain Macleod

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and I have informed the British Dental Association that we are ready to embark at once on an inquiry to obtain all the facts about dental remuneration, but that the information at present available is not in our view sufficient to justify any immediate increase.

Mr. Price

Does this mean that the dentists' demand for the restoration of the 10 per cent. cut has been rejected? Does my right hon. Friend realise the disappointment and anxiety that this will cause among what might be called the depressed section of this profession which is almost entirely dependent on the National Health Service?

Mr. Macleod

Yes. It means that the claim for the restoration of the 10 per cent. cut has been rejected, because I do not think I have sufficient evidence. I have a duty to the dental profession, but equally I have a duty to the taxpayer, and I must discharge both.

Mr. Hastings

Will the right hon. Gentleman include in this inquiry the remuneration of dentists employed by local authorities for the care of children and women and other similar duties?

Mr. Macleod

That is rather a different question from the one that is at the moment before me from the Dental Association.

Dr. Stross

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that most dentists would like more patients more frequently at the present charges rather than higher charges for fewer patients? If he accepts that statement, will he not relieve us of the charge he has made on patients?

Mr. Macleod

I think it has escaped the hon. Member's notice that in a recent answer I said that there has been no reduction as a result of the Conservative Government's Act of last year. There has been a substantial reduction as a result of the 1951 Measure.