§ 45. Mr. Simmons
asked the Prime Minister why the medical and surgical treatment of war pensioners in Northern Ireland is controlled by the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance while this service in the Republic is under the control of the Ministry of Health.
§ The Prime Minister (Sir Anthony Eden)
When the Ministry of Pensions and the Ministry of National Insurance were merged in 1953, it was the general policy of Her Majesty's Government that medical services should be provided by the Ministry of Health. It was in accordance with this general policy that these responsibilities in the Irish Republic were transferred to the Ministry of Health. So far as Northern Ireland is concerned, it was the wish of the Northern Ireland authorities that the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance should discharge the responsibilities which were previously those of the Ministry of Pensions, and this course was accordingly adopted.
§ Mr. Simmons
Is the Prime Minister afraid of causing a little trouble in Ireland between the North and the South about this differential treatment? Is this situation not an indication of the need for a co-ordinating Minister to deal with war pensions, which are now bandied about between three separate Government Departments? Will the right hon. Gentleman not appoint a Minister of State for War Pensions to look after the interests of war pensioners?
§ The Prime Minister
I go with the hon. Member so far as to say that this is not perhaps a particularly logical arrangement, but that is not altogether unknown in our affairs. Sometimes things work a little better when they are not logical. I am told that the arrangements have proved satisfactory, in practice. If the hon. Member has evidence to the contrary, I will, of course, consider it, but if arrangements are working well I rather like to leave well alone.