§ 21. Lieut-Colonel Lipton
asked the Minister of Health by whom, and in what hospital or hospitals, were orders issued limiting the use of operating theatres to the hours from 9 a.m. to 5.30 p.m.
§ 25. Mr. Swingler
asked the Minister of Health in what hospital or hospitals the use of the operating theatre is restricted to the hours 9 a.m. to 5.30 p.m.; by whom; and why.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Lipton
Does my right hon. Friend's reply mean that Lord Horder has not yet had the courtesy or the courage to substantiate the allegation—[HON. MEMBERS: "Order."]—which, in the absence of factual supporting evidence, will be regarded as irresponsible and, possibly, even malicious?
§ Mr. Speaker
That supplementary question we have just heard was an attack upon a Member of another place, and it should not have been made. It referred to a statement made in the Press, and there was no need in the question to mention any name at all.
§ Mr. Speaker
It was a very offensive supplementary question imputing malice, and it is not in Order for Questions to be offensive.
§ Mr. Swingler
Will my right hon. Friend consult with the Law Officers of the Crown to find out whether hospital administrators as a group can be protected in any way from unsubstantiated charges against unspecified hospitals?
§ Mr. Godfrey Nicholson
Would not the Minister think it right to circulate the information in HANSARD rather than to convey it to the two hon. Members concerned?
Mr. Wilson Harris
Is it so unreasonable that what may be termed routine operations should be confined to these hours, provided that emergency operations can take place at any hour?
§ Mr. Bevan
There are many inquiries to make and there are thousands of hospitals. In the absence of any particular information I have now to circularise all the hospital management committees. Certainly it is perfectly reasonable for operating theatres to be closed during certain hours if they are always available for emergency operations, but the implication here is a reflection upon the National Health Service.
§ Mr. Henry Strauss
Was not the original answer a perfectly proper one, 508 that the right hon. Gentleman was making inquiries, and is it not premature, until he has made those inquiries, to say whether this is substantiated or not?
§ Mr. Bevan
A responsible person, if he thought that this was being done and it was wrong, would have written to the Minister and given him the name of the hospital in order that he might make inquiries. Instead of that, much anxiety and pain and alarm have been unnecessarily given to many hundreds of thousands of people.