HC Deb 24 November 1949 vol 470 cc506-8
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.

Mr. Bevan

I am making inquiries and will communicate with my hon. Friends.

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. Bevan

As far as I can find out—and I have made inquiries—we have received no information whatsoever from Lord Horder either before or since he made his statement.

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.

Hon. Members


Mr. Bevan

On that point of Order. The statement was made by a Member of another place but not in his capacity as a Member of another House. Do I understand that any Member of the other House can make any statement he likes in any other capacity and claim immunity?

Mr. Speaker

It was a very offensive supplementary question imputing malice, and it is not in Order for Questions to be offensive.

Mr. Bevan

Further to that point of Order. I would point out to you, Mr. Speaker, also, that the original statement complained of was exceedingly 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. Bevan

The only defence and protection which administrators have—which, indeed, the country has—is in Questions and answers in the House of Commons and the publicity which is given to them.

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. Bevan

If there is a Question put on the Order Paper I will certainly give a reply in the House.

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, 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.

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