HC Deb 17 November 1983 vol 48 cc984-6
Q4. Mr. Ralph

Howell asked the Prime Minister if, in the light of the information sent to her by the hon. Member for Norfolk, North she has any plans to require the preparation of revised National Health Service accounts for 1981–82.

The Prime Minister

The National Health Service summarised accounts for 1981–82 have been presented to Parliament

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services is actively pursuing various points that arise on National Health Service expenditure and efficiency, but the accounts themselves will not be re-opened.

Mr. Howell

Does my right hon. Friend agree, having read the strongly worded report of the National Associaton of Health Authorities in England and Wales on losses, theft and fraud, and having seen other evidence of waste in the National Health Service, that the accounts as certified by the Comptroller and Auditor General for 1980–81 and 1981–82 are almost certainly incorrect?

The Prime Minister

I saw the evidence sent to me by my hon. Friend, and I regard it very seriously indeed. The Public Accounts Committee took evidence this week from the accounting officers concerned, and I look forward to its report in due course. As my hon. Friend knows, the efficiency of the Comptroller and Auditor General and his Department passed under the National Audit Act 1983 to the House itself. I hope that this matter will be pursued vigorously.

Mr. Ashley

Is the Prime Minister aware that despite the provisions of the NHS—fraud or not—thousands of disabled people are suffering discrimination every day? If the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons (Amendment) Bill is defeated by Conservative Members, will that not constitute the gravest betrayal of the disabled that this House has ever known?

The Prime Minister

The Government have an excellent practical record in helping the disabled, both with eligibility for benefits and with increased cash benefits. For example, invalidity benefit — [Interruption.] Opposition Members may not wish to hear the facts, but they are going to. In 1983–84 invalidity benefit will be 29 per cent. higher in real terms than it was in 1978–79; attendance allowance will be 73 per cent. higher; non-contributory and invalidity pensions will be 35 per cent. higher and mobility allowance will be a massive three and a half times what it was in 1978–79. That is the Government's practical record.