HC Deb 29 November 1965 vol 721 cc977-8
41. Mr. Wood

asked the Minister of Health if he will now make a statement on his review of the hospital building programme.

Mr. K. Robinson

Many hospital boards have already submitted to me their provisional proposals, and I expect the remainder shortly. It is necessary to study these in detail with the boards, but I hope to publish the results of the review in the first half of next year.

Mr. Wood

Is the Minister aware that, meanwhile, the country has no facts on which to judge whether the confident promises made in October, 1964, are being broken or are being carried out, and that we are anxious to reach a judgment as soon as possible? In the meantime, news of disappointment and postponement is coming in. Can we be assured that by the time of the next election we shall be able to judge whether the Labour Party has kept its promises?

Mr. Robinson

Long before then. The right hon. Gentleman can rest assured that the promises made in October are not being broken, but it was important to give the boards time to produce their plans and consult other authorities. My Department also must have adequate time to study the programme. We are seized of the urgent need to review the plan and publish our findings, but we are not prepared to produce a hurried, ill-thought-out revision.

Mr. Lubbock

Does the Minister realise that when the plans of the local authorities were published it was stated by the previous Government that it was important that those plans should be considered in conjunction with those of the hospitals. Can the right hon. Gentleman now give a similar undertaking that a review is taking place in respect of local authority health and welfare plans, and that they, too, will be published in the first half of next year?

Mr. Robinson

That is my present intention, and I hope very much that the two plans will reflect closer consultation between the two sets of authorities than has been the case hitherto.

Mr. Bagier

In considering the review, will my right hon. Friend ensure that much needed extensions of existing hospitals, which are required to carry out their ordinary duties, are not held up in any way? In particular, I ask my right hon. Friend to think of extensions for surgical and other facilities which, at the moment, are apparently awaiting the review of hospital building plans.

Mr. Robinson

It is my intention, and I have already told the House, that the review shall not be allowed to affect the progress of schemes that were planned to start in the very near future, and, as far as I know, boards have carried out this advice.