HC Deb 06 February 1968 vol 758 cc225-7
Ql. Mr. Gwilym Roberts

asked the Prime Minister following devaluation and his subsequent discussions with the Confederation of British Industry and the Trades Union Congress, what estimate he has made of the amount of the likely national dividend for 1968 and 1969; and if he will make a statement.

modation for treatment in each of the hospital regions; and what were the figures for December, 1966, 1965 and 1964.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health (Mr. Julian Snow)

As the reply contains a number of figures, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Gurden

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that his action in closing down the Moseley Hall Hospital, Birmingham, has seriously aggravated the position?

Mr. Snow

During the last 10 years the population has increased overall by 7.6 per cent. During those 10 years—a large proportion of which came under Conservative Administration—the number of in-patient cases treated increased by 31 per cent., and the hon. Gentleman's party could have taken action in view of that tendency.

Following are the figures:

The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Wilson)

I would refer my hon. Friend to the Answer I gave on 21st November, 1967, to a Question by the hon. and learned Member for Antrim, South (Sir Knox Cunningham) and to my speech in the debate on Government expenditure on 18th January.—[Vol. 754, c. 1136 and Vol. 756, c. 1973.]

Mr. Roberts

Would not the Prime Minister agree that the key to increasing the national dividend is economic expansion and that, in this light, Government restrictive measures on the economy —and on industrial development in the South-East in particular—are quite absurd?

The Prime Minister

No, Sir. My hon. Friend will be well aware that the key to increased production is export-led expansion; and the measures we have taken are designed to see that, with the new opportunities for export, an export-led boom rather than a consumer-led boom is given a chance to develop.

Mr. Iain Macleod

Did not the Chancellor of the Exchequer say last night that there would be virtually no increase in private consumption in these two years, in which case what is the relevance of either the Question or the Answer?

The Prime Minister

I am not sure if the right hon. Gentleman is referring to the original Question or my hon. Friend's supplementary question. However, in our discussions with the T.U.C. we have told them—and I have informed the House, and they have issued their reports on this—what will be available for wages in this year and probably right up to 1969. Nothing that my right hon. Friend said last night was in any way incompatible with what I have told the House.