The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Commander T. D. Galbraith)
With your permission, Sir, and that of the House, I should like to make a statement about hospital building in Scotland.
The Government propose an increase in the rate of hospital building in Scotland corresponding to that which my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health has just announced for England and Wales.
The total provision for hospital building in Scotland will be increased from its present level of £1,900,000 this year and next, to £2,200,000 in 1956–57 and to £2½ million in 1957–58. Of the additional funds thus made available, £50,000 in 1956–57 and £150,000 in 1957–58 will be used to supplement the present special programme of plant renewal, on which £800,000 altogether will be spent in the three years from 1955–56 to 1957–58. The 1908 balance will be used to increase the number of major building schemes undertaken, and I expect that it will be possible to put in hand schemes to a total value of £3 million during these three years.
In 1955–56, a start will be made on a new maternity hospital at Bellshill, Lanarkshire, a new surgical block at Kirkcaldy, and the reconstruction of a mental hospital in Dundee. Details of the subsequent programme have still to be settled in consultation with regional hospital boards, but among the projects to be considered are extensions to mental deficiency institutions in Banff and in the Glasgow area, a new treatment unit at Glasgow Western Infirmary, reconstruction of the Edinburgh Royal Mental Hospital, and improvement of hospital facilities in Shetland.
Detailed planning work will also be put in hand for other schemes to start in 1958–59 and succeeding years, including the provision of a completely new teaching hospital in Dundee.
§ Mr. Woodburn
The House will recognise the step forward we are making in being released from many of the restrictions imposed by building shortages, but could I ask the Under-Secretary whether this programme is to be carried out without any undue curtailment of the building of houses, schools, and other important building programmes? May I also ask whether the surgical unit at Kirkcaldy means any special delay in the establishment of the new general hospital which is required for Fife to relieve the pressure on Edinburgh Royal Infirmary? Further, is there to be any provision for adjusting the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary so that it may cope with the tremendous overpressure there is on its present accommodation?
It is not anticipated that the building programme which I have just submitted to the House will interfere in any way with other building 1909 projects which are going ahead at the present time. The new general hospital in Fife is not in the programme but, in the meantime the new provision being made at the Victoria Hospital, in Kirkcaldy, will provide 150 beds in addition to what is there now, and we think that that should go a considerable way to relieving any pressure there is. The Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh, is not in the programme at the moment.
§ Mr. Woodburn
May I take it that the Minister will be endorsing what has been said by the Minister of Health, and that hospitals in Scotland will also be free to use their funds for doing building work in addition to the programme enunciated today?
§ Captain Duncan
Is my right hon. and gallant Friend aware that the statement he has just made will be warmly welcomed in Scotland? May I put him right on one point, however? The mental hospital which he said is in Dundee is in my constituency. May I also ask whether this programme contemplates the replacement of temporary war hospital accommodation which now exists?
No, Sir. There is nothing in addition to what I have already told the House. As to the mental hospital, I was referring to the one at Westgreen.
§ Mrs. Mann
May I express great satisfaction at the proposal for the new maternity hospital at Bellshill? Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman doing anything about the ear, nose and throat unit? Will he tell us something about the unit which it is proposed to provide in the Western Infirmary, Glasgow?
I can say nothing more about the ear, nose and throat unit than I said in answer to the hon. Lady and others recently. The Western Infirmary unit is to deal principally with malignant diseases and is for research as well as treatment.
§ Lady Tweedsmuir
Has my right hon. and gallant Friend approved any schemes for the North-Eastern Region, particularly Aberdeen?
§ Mr. Rankin
Do I understand from the statement of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman that the only proposal for Glasgow is the unit at the Western Infirmary? Is he aware that there is not a single hospital in Glasgow which has not a long waiting list for admission? If this is all that he can do to ease that situation then, so far as Glasgow is concerned, his proposals are totally inadequate.
§ Mr. Rankin
On a point of order. Surely, when I speak for one-fifth of the population of Scotland, at least I deserve an answer, Mr. Speaker.
Apart from that, the hon. Member was endeavouring to convey information and not asking a question.
§ Mr. Manuel
Can the right hon. and gallant Gentleman say how far the projects which he has mentioned fall short of the various proposals that have been made to him over the past three years for the various regional hospital boards in Scotland? Could he also say what protective measures he is taking to safeguard the continued provision of houses in Scotland, because undoubtedly building materials and fair numbers of men will be utilised in connection with the projects which he has mentioned? The regional hospital boards have been asking the Minister how far their programmes will be covered in connection with the proposals which he is making.
The hon. Member will recognise that this is an announcement of the start of the programme and not the completion. This is the first stage and something which I believe every hon. Member who represents a Scottish constituency should be very grateful to hear.
§ Commander Donaldson
Can my right hon. and gallant Friend say whether the further progress of the programme anticipates any increase in the facilities of Peel Hospital, which serves five counties in South-East Scotland, or the anticipated construction of a new general hospital for that area?
That matter has been considered and I have informed my hon. and gallant Friend of the conclusions which have been reached. In accordance with the judgment of my right hon. Friend, it is not in the first priority.
I do not know about that, but the programme is for three years and I think it is enough to be going on with for the present.
§ Mr. Brooman-White
May I ask my right hon. and gallant Friend not to be unduly disturbed by the fact that when he builds more houses than the previous Government he is criticised for not doing more for schools and hospitals and that now he is doing more for hospitals he is criticised for not doing enough for houses?