§ Mr. David Nicholson
To ask the Secretary of State for Health why applications for exemption from prescription charges are now centralised through Newcastle; when this new system was introduced; what representations he has received about its functioning; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Mellor
In line with a recommendation of an efficiency scrutiny, all claims for exemption from prescription and other NHS charges on low income grounds have, since 11 April 1988, been dealt with centrally by the agency benefits unit of the Department of Social Security which administers the scheme on our behalf. Operational matters are the responsibility of that152W Department. On other matters the Secretary of State has received one parliamentary question, 17 letters from Members of Parliament and two letters from members of the public referring specifically to exemption from prescription charges.