HC Deb 31 July 1972 vol 842 cc20-1
22. Mr. Probert

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what progress is being made between his Department and local authorities on the preparation for the reorganisation of the National Health Service in Wales.

Mr. Gibson-Watt

Local authority and other associations are currently being consulted about the issue of a circular inviting local authorities and health authorities to set up informal joint liaison committees to prepare for the change-over and about the first recommendations of a joint working party dealing with collaboration after 1974.

Mr. Probert

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that with the operation of the Housing Finance Act—and we have recently heard of some of its implications—and with the reorganisation of the local government service, the need to implement the Government's proposals for the National Health Service by 1st April, 1974, is adding the last straw to the camel's back and that the staffs and administrators of local government and other associations will be forced into a state of desperation and chaos? Will he therefore consider asking his right hon. and learned Friend to impress upon the Cabinet the need to consider wisely a postponement for at least 12 months of the coming into operation of the reorganised National Health Service?

Mr. Gibson-Watt

I am aware of the problem raised by the hon. Gentleman but I could not agree to delaying the matter for 12 months. I hope that the joint liaison committees will be able to start work in the autumn, and the Welsh Office will assist in inaugurating them and will give guidance as needed.

Mr. John

Did I hear the hon. Gentleman aright? Did he say that he was proposing that the organisations should meet upon the basis of what, at the moment, is only a consultative document on the National Health Service? Will the hon. Gentleman accept that we on this side of the House are grossly dissatisfied with the provisions in that document for public participation and representation in the running of the National Health Service after 1st April, 1974, and that we want a full opportunity to debate it before the proposals are finalised?

Mr. Gibson-Watt

I note what the hon. Gentleman says. I am sure there will be an opportunity. He will also agree that it is common sense for the Welsh Office to work out this proposal and help the various authorities concerned so as to lead to discussions in the joint liaison committees on the future of the National Health Service.