HC Deb 26 March 1969 vol 780 cc1604-5
13. Mr. Allason

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the future of the Military Hospital, Millbank.

Mr. Reynolds

I have nothing to add to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to my hon. Friend the Member for Barking (Mr. Driberg) on 20th February.—[Vol. 778, c. 759–62.]

Mr. Allason

Will the Minister bear in mind that this hospital represents only 6 per cent. of the bed strength of military hospitals in the United Kingdom? While the Tate Gallery trustees are very patient, if they could be informed when the site of this hospital will be available to them—at least an approximation of the date—it would be of great help to them.

Mr. Reynolds

It may be only 6 per cent.—and I have not checked that figure—but it is an important 6 per cent. for treatment, training and organisation of the Royal Army Medical Corps. I have considered this problem for 18 months. There are several possible solutions, some costing a considerable amount of money. I repeat the Prime Minister's reply to a supplementary question, namely, that it is better to find the right answer than an excessively quick answer. That is the main thing.

Mr. Cronin

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that this is the headquarters hospital of the Royal Army Medical Corps and that it has a worldwide reputation? Would it not be a reversal of all reasonable priorities to get rid of this hospital simply for the purpose of enlarging a gallery to show pictures?

Mr. Reynolds

I will certainly bear that in mind. This hospital is an important cog in the Royal Army Medical Corps machine and to the medical corps of the other Services. We are considering alternatives, but a number of them are very expensive and must be looked at very carefully.