§ 38. Mr. Benn
asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware of the need existing in south Gloucestershire for the provisions of a new old people's home at Kingswood; and whether he will reconsider his decision not to sponsor the Gloucestershire County Council's application for loan sanction in respect of the necessary capital expenditure, which he approved six months ago, in view of his declared policy of giving high priority to projects such as this which relieve the pressure on hospital beds.
§ The Minister of Health (Mr. R. H. Turton)
I am aware of the need, but regret that I cannot at present sponsor this application for loan sanction in view of the present restrictions on capital expenditure by local authorities.
§ Mr. Benn
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that six months ago he approved this project, that in a speech six weeks ago he said that old people's homes were one of his main priorities, that the local council, in response to the demand for economy, has cut out a lot of other projects in order to leave this project in, and that there is a growing need for accommodation for old people now accommodated in hospitals in the county, and will he please reconsider this matter?
§ Mr. Turton
At the present time I am trying to concentrate loan sanctions on projects which meet the most essential needs, and I have no evidence that this project comes into that category.
§ Dr. Summerskill
How can the right hon. Gentleman reconcile his answer with the speech he made during the weekend, when he emphasised the need to remove old people from general hospitals and mental hospitals to other accommodation wherever possible?
§ Mr. Turton
That is what I was saying. Because of the importance of that need, it is vital that I should authorise loan sanctions for the most essential cases. This project does not come into that category.