§ Nothing in this Act shall be deemed to cancel any existing arrangements designed to provide grants to set up group practice long-term loans.—[Dr. Wyndham Davies.]
§ Brought up, and read the First time.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ Dr. Wyndham Davies
I beg to move, That the Clause be read a Second time.
982 This Bill is miserly and disappointing. I do not wish to go over the arguments that I have used in saying that, in my opinion, £100 million as a Government grant spread over 10 years was far nearer what was required to inject some new life and activity into the Health Service general practice. This was merely for surgery premises and equipment alone.
Perhaps I may ask the right hon. Gentleman to clarify his remarks in the Second Reading debate, reported in column 1423, when he said:There is a transitional problem of the loans"—those are the loans to which I am referring—which I believe may total about £600,000, which have been approved but which will not be issued by the time the Corporation starts its operations. We shall have to work out in detail with the profession what is to happen in these cases, but I do not myself foresee any serious difficulties here."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd February, 1966; Vol. 723, c. 1423.]I am asking that this Committee should be informed what sort of arrangement the right hon. Gentleman has in mind for this existing £600,000, which is quite a considerable sum of money, under an arrangement which seemed quite satisfactory to many of these young doctors who are asking for help with their surgery premises, and whether somehow they can receive help and not be saddled with high interest payments on the subsequent loans which they may get under the Bill.
§ Mr. K. Lewis
Sometimes when one goes to the cinema, if one has time to go—that is to say, if one is not a Member of Parliament—one sees the film round a second time. I have already made a speech on this Clause in your absence, Mr. Bowen, on an Amendment which I thought related to the question of group practice. I have no intention, therefore, of repeating that speech, but I hope that when the Minister replies he will have regard to what I said in my previous speech and will say something to assure us that there is nothing in the Bill that does other than encourage group practice.
§ Mr. K. Robinson
I think there is something in what the hon. Member for Rutland and Stamford (Mr. Kenneth Lewis) said in another connection. The debate seems to have gone full circle, 983 because I dealt extensively with this point in the course of our first debate in the Committee this afternoon.
The hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Dr. Wyndham Davies) asked again about this transitional problem of the loans and said that he thought the Committee was entitled to know what is in my mind. I have already told the Committee, in reply to a previous Amendment, the sort of solution I thought might be appropriate. Briefly, it was that the loan should come from the Corporation and that instead of the Corporation lending the money interest-free, the interest would be met by the executive council rather than by the individual practitioner. This is one possible solution, but I would not want to tie myself to any particular solution until we have concluded our discussions with the representatives of the profession.
I can assure the hon. Gentleman that it is not our intention that anybody shall be in any way disadvantaged. There is, in fact, the added advantage that the Corporation will be enabled to lend money over a substantially longer period than the period under the group practice loan scheme. But it is our intention to wind up that scheme as soon as the Corporation is in business and I think that there will be no difficulty whatever in reaching mutually acceptable arrangements to deal with this one transitional problem.
§ Question put and negatived.
§ Schedule agreed to.
§ Bill reported, without Amendment; read the Third time and passed.