HC Deb 12 February 1979 vol 962 cc770-1
9. Mr. Kinnock

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what is the current estimated cost of constructing and commissioning a 300–bed general hospital in Wales.

Mr. Barry Jones

It varies according to site conditions and other factors but will not be less than £10 million.

Mr. Kinnock

Is my hon. Friend aware that that would be a small price to pay if such resources could be allocated for bringing much needed relief and a new service to the people of Gwent—specifically, my area of Gwent—and mid-Glamorgan? Does the Minister find it defensible, in those cicumstances, at a time of extremely limited resources, that roughly twice that amount will have to be spent evey year for the maintenance of an Assembly which the people of Wales do not want, whereas they desperately need new hospitals?

Mr. Barry Jones

I know of my hon. Friend's interest in the district general hospital for his valley. I know that he and others of my hon. Friends will be meeting me about it in the near future. I look forward to a discussion on that issue.

Yes, I find it defensible. Perhaps my hon. Friend should look at the huge underspend on housing in Wales over the past few years. I should think he would agree that in the Welsh Assembly it might be possible to obtain greater savings so as to build more district hospitals.

Mr. Grist

Will the Minister explain how the underspend will be remedied under a Welsh Assemby and what the difference will be for the local authorities?

Mr. Barry Jones

I am not sure that I can say why my hon. Friend needs a hospital in his valley. However, I can say why I think the underspend could be controlled better. If men and women are elected in their constituencies and come to Cardiff specifically with housing in mind, they will take an interest in such a way as to make sure that the technical officers who run the housing programmes do not underspend.

Mr. Cledwyn Hughes

If there is a "No" vote on 1 March, is there any guarantee that my hon. Friend will get his hospital any sooner?

Mr. Barry Jones

My right hon. and learned Friend and I know that if by some mischance Opposition Front Bench Members were transferred to the Treasury Bench there would be no prospects of getting such a district hospital.