HC Deb 08 August 1966 vol 733 cc993-4
24. Mr. Dean

asked the Minister of Health whether he will give details of the £3 million cuts which are to be made in local authority health and welfare programmes.

Mr. K. Robinson

I intend to secure the necessary reduction of capital expenditure in 1967–68 by limiting the total value of loan sanctions issued during the course of 1966–67 to the reduced figure.

Mr. Dean

Can the Minister give a few more details? As he is well aware, many people are disturbed that this one part of the Health Service has been singled out for cuts. Will he give any assurance, in particular, that projects concerning accommodation for old people will not be affected by the cuts?

Mr. Robinson

I am very happy to give the hon. Gentleman more details. The reduction is £2.9 million and this is rather less than 10 per cent. of the original planned total. Perhaps I should explain to the hon. Member that estimates for next year are based on the loan sanctions made during the current year. Certainly I am giving priority to old people's homes, the erection of which will lead to the closure of ex-Public Assistance institutions. I am also giving priority to mental health projects and health centres.

Mr. Braine

Is the Minister aware that nobody can understand why he is happy to give those details? Is it not a fact that a substantial part of these cuts falls upon the provision of welfare homes for the elderly? This is already throwing some local health authorities out of gear with their programmes. Does he consider it wise and socially just, and what representations did he make on the subject to his colleagues?

Mr. Robinson

The hon. Member would rot expect me to answer the last part of the supplementary question. I am only too happy to be able to correct the misunderstanding on the part of hon. Members opposite who seem to regard this as a much more serious cut than in fact it is. Even after the reduction, the figure for next year will be higher than that for the current year, because of the fact that it is based on loan sanctions in the previous year.

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