HC Deb 19 March 1953 vol 513 cc199-200
22. Mr. J. Paton

asked the Minister of Health if, in view of the curtailment and postponement of the capital expenditure programmes of the national hospital service, owing to the need for national economy, he will sanction the realisation of certain of the investments of the Hospital Endowments Fund and allow the proceeds to be used for capital projects of an urgent nature.

Mr. Iain Macleod

I regret that the hon. Member's interesting suggestion is not practicable at present.

Mr. Paton

Is the Minister aware of the very widespread feeling of frustration among members of these committees, and the deep anxiety about the inevitable stoppage of hospital development? Cannot he offer them something?

Mr. Macleod

It is quite untrue that there is a stoppage in hospital development. The money allocated for capital resources is more or less the same. [An HON. MEMBER: "No."] Certainly. The difficulty of the hon. Gentleman's proposal is that the fact that new money is put in does not increase the resources available for capital investment.

Mr. G. R. Howard

Would my right hon. Friend look into the question of free money and say whether this anomaly cannot be removed so that these moneys can be used for items of more general expenditure?

Mr. Macleod

I am not anxious to get into a position in which free moneys are used for purposes for which the Exchequer should be primarily responsible, but I appreciate the force of my hon. Friend's point that there is considerable difficulty—the Select Committee on Estimates drew attention to this—in the use and the spending of free moneys. I am constantly studying whether better guidance can be given.