HC Deb 27 January 1969 vol 776 cc909-10
12. Mr. Fisher

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what plans he has for extending facilities for treatment of alcoholics.

The Secretary of State for Social Services (Mr. Richard Crossman)

Hospital boards plan to provide four new special units for this purpose and to increase the size of one existing unit; others are under consideration.

Mr. Fisher

In view of the estimates that there are between ¼ million and ½million people suffering from alcoholism and that the cost to industry in lost man-hours is over £40 million a year, may I ask whether the Secretary of State is absolutely satisfied that the facilities for treatment are adequate and, indeed, that his Department is taking this whole problem sufficiently seriously?

Mr. Crossman

I think that the increases now proposed in the hospital boards indicate the seriousness with which we are taking it One would never say that one was satisfied with the attention being given to a major evil of this kind.

Sir A. V. Harvey

Would not the right hon. Gentleman confirm that it is a fact that less spirits are being consumed today because of the exorbitant taxes inflicted by this Government?

Mr. Crossman

That is a different question.