HC Deb 31 July 1961 vol 645 cc908-10
33. Mr. K. Robinson

asked the Minister of Health to what extent the hospital capital development programme already announced for the current financial year and for 1962–63 will be reduced in the light of recent decisions of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

45. Mr. Swingler

asked the Minister of Health if he will make a statement on the effect of the Government's new economy measures on the National Health Service; and, in view of the annual loss of productive work through sickness, what steps he is taking to maintain the expansion of those parts of the service which directly contribute to the nation's fitness to work.

Mr. Powell

With economy and increasing efficiency, I expect the development of the National Health Service, including the hospital building programme to be able to continue without exceeding the financial limits indicated by my right hon. and learned Friend.

Mr. Robinson

This is a very equivocal reply. Does the right hon. Gentleman recall that at the time of announcing the increased Health Service charges in February he rested his whole case on the expansion and development of the hospital service? Unless he can give a categorical assurance that plans already approved by him will not be affected, does he not realise that he put a false prospectus before the House and the country on that occasion?

Mr. Powell

On the contrary, it remains true that without the measures which were carried through the House earlier in the year there would have been less finance available far the developing parts of the National Health Service. I expect both the Service as a whole and the hospital building programme to be able to go forward within the financial limits that my right hon. and learned Friend announced.

Mr. Swingler

Is it not a fact that the increased Bank Rate will put up the cost of the hospital building programme and therefore add to public expenditure? Does the right hon. Gentleman mean that the ceiling will be raised in order to provide for the higher interest charges resulting from the Chancellor of the Exchequer's policy, or that in fact there will be a cut because the interest charges will form a higher proportion of the amount?

Mr. Powell

The hon. Gentleman is under a misapprehension. Hospital capital costs are above the line.

Lord Balniel

Does my right hon. Friend's statement mean that the allocations to individual hospital boards for 1962–63 will remain as already announced?

Mr. Powell