HC Deb 09 March 1970 vol 797 cc899-900
18. Mr. Cronin

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what his policy will be with regard to the arrangements between the area health authorities and the local authorities for sharing or exchanging services in the new administration proposed in the recently published Green Paper.

Mr. Crossman

As I have said in the Green Paper, close collaboration between the area health authorities and the local authorities will be essential, and I shall be discussing with the local authority associations, and the professional and other bodies concerned the detailed arrangements for sharing or exchanging services.

Mr. Cronin

Do not the Green Paper arrangements involve an undesirable separation between the health and the welfare aspects? Do they not also involve a rather tight and remote central control of the National Health Service? Will my right hon. Friend attempt to persuade the medical profession to overcome their prejudices and to agree to some integration of the area health authorities with a reformed local government?

Mr. Crossman

I hesitate to say this to my hon. Friend, but if, in his unrivalled position in our party, he could use it to influence his colleagues, the whole world would be different, and if he would concentrate on that work for the next 50 or 60 years he might find it crowned with success.

Mr. Fortescue

Does the original reply mean that under the proposed arrangements it will be possible for National Health Service money, taxpayers' money, to be transferred to local authorities for the building of old people's homes, say, instead of hospitals when such a course is desirable?

Mr. Crossman

Yes. The main reason for the arrangements was for the agency services. For example, a health authority which did not want to have its own lawyers could possibly use the lawyers of a local authority. But I do not exclude the second possibility, particularly with regard to such provisions as old people's homes and hostels for the mentally handicapped, which are areas of ambiguity between the two sides. I want to get on with building the homes and the hostels, come what may, and I know the difficulties for the ratepayers.