HC Deb 14 March 1962 vol 655 cc1297-8
15. Mr. W. Baxter

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the policy of Her Majesty's Government regarding the provision of health centres throughout Scotland.

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. John Maclay)

Experimental developments in this field are considered when suitable conditions provide an opportunity. This depends on local circumstances, especially on the way doctors in a locality wish to organise their practices, as well as on the financial resources available.

Mr. Baxter

Is the Secretary of State aware that only two health centres have been built in Scotland since the Act of 1947 was put on the Statute Book? While the provision of health centres in England is the responsibility of the local authorities, in Scotland it is the responsibility of the Secretary of State. The fact that the Secretary of State for Scotland appears not to have carried out his responsibilities and duties under the Act has forced local authorities to build clinics at very considerable cost to local ratepayers. What action is the Secretary of State going to take to provide the necessary health centres in Scotland, and, where clinics have been provided by local authorities, to give them financial help with them?

Mr. Maclay

The hon. Member has got in a most useful speech on this subject.

Mr. Manuel

A jolly good one.

Mr. Maclay

First of all, the facts. It is correct that there are two health centres at present built. Another is building at Cumbernauld, and we have a diagnostic centre in Edinburgh. So the answer is two plus one plus another diagnostic centre, which is four. The hon. Member has gone into a very complex subject which I think would be altogether more suitably considered in debate rather than in Answers to Questions.

Mr. Woodburn

Will the right hon. Gentleman keep in mind the possibility of using smaller hospitals in small towns which could offer the same amount of services as would be provided by the rather more expensive health centres, and ensure co-operation of local doctors as far as possible in the work of the hospitals?

Mr. Maclay

I note the right hon. Gentleman's suggestion with interest. He will be aware, of course, that there are interest-free loans to enable doctors to equip premises for group practice. It is a complex subject.

Mr. Baxter

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that Kilsyth has been on the list for a considerable number of years? I have personally interviewed successive Secretaries of State to see that a health centre was to be built in the town of Kilsyth. Will the right hon. Gentleman now face up to his responsibility and the promises which have been forthcoming with regard to the health centre at Kilsyth? Will he see that a health centre is now provided?

Mr. Maclay

I can see no prospect of providing for a centre at present at Kilsyth. This is a question of important priorities. The hon. Member knows that we have a great many urgent jobs to do.

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