HC Deb 23 July 1973 vol 860 cc1144-5
19. Mr. Elystan Morgan

asked the Secretary of State for Wales how soon he expects to be able to announce the names of his appointments to the area health boards in Wales.

Mr. Gibson-Watt

Within the next few weeks.

Mr. Morgan

Despite the fact that the Government have rejected democratic election to these area boards, will the Minister give an undertaking that the persons appointed will be representative of the areas as a whole and of the main interests therein? Further, will he confirm that these bodies shall not be the prerogative of innocent placemen or wrinkled old retainers, whose real qualification is that they have given loyal service to the Tory Party over the years?

Mr. Gibson-Watt

That supplementary question comes badly from the Opposition When my right hon. and learned Friend and I took over the Welsh Office, there was one Conservative upon the Welsh Hospital Board. I should like to give the House the assurance that our choosing of these people to run health in Wales will result in a balanced and able crew.

Mr. George Thomas

Will the Minister of State confirm that the former Conservative Member for Swansea, West, Mr. Hugh Rees, is already lined up for the chairmanship in West Glamorgan?

Mr. Gibson-Watt

I could not confirm that.

Mr. Kinnock

In making these appointments, will the Minister take care to see that he gets people who will give voice to the feeling that it is stupid and occasionally tragic to shut down hospitals or specialist hospital units before suitable alternatives have been provided, so that we avoid cases such as the tragic affair mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Newport (Mr. Roy Hughes) and bring relief to people such as those in my constituency who have had to go to extraordinary expense to receive treatment as far afield as London and Liverpool?

Mr. Gibson-Watt

One of the reasons why the Government decided to have area health authorities, and not a regional board, and to have community health councils was to do just the thing that the hon. Gentleman wishes.