HC Deb 10 November 1976 vol 919 cc386-7
1. Mr. Gordon Wilson

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will hold a public inquiry into the increase in building cost of Ninewells Hospital, Dundee.

The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Harry Ewing)

As the building contractors have moved for arbitration in the light of the final certificate issued on 26th October 1976 and have also started legal proceedings against the health board, it would be inappropriate to take a decision at this stage on the holding of an inquiry.

Mr. Wilson

The Minister has given perhaps the only answer he could give in the circumstances. Does he accept that there is considerable anxiety about the manner in which these costs have been built up? Is the system of public accounting at the Scottish Office sufficiently sophisticated to deal with such circumstances? Will the Minister conduct an internal departmental inquiry into the way in which the costs escalated from £10 million to £25 million?

Mr. Ewing

I accept that there is public concern on this question, but there is Government concern as well. These are highly complicated, complex and difficult legal matters. It would be better if the House agreed that we should leave the matter to take its legal process before examining it further.

Mr. Welsh

Is the Minister aware that the same costly, insensitive blind bureaucracy has been displayed by the Tayside Health Board in its dealings with the services offered by Arbroath Infirmary? Will he look into that? Does he realise that health boards will be giving poorer services to local people at greater cost?

Mr. Ewing

The hon. Member has a Question later on the Order Paper on the subject, and it would be unfair for me to pre-empt the answer to that Question.

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