HC Deb 24 November 1983 vol 49 cc447-8
10. Mr. Parry

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will assess the affect of the reduction of the cash limits he announced in July on provision of services.

Mr. Peter Rees

The cash limit reductions announced in July were intended to remove at least £500 million of overspending, compared with total public expenditure of around £120 billion.

Mr. Parry

Is the Minister aware that the Chancellor's actions have led to the reduction of over £5 million in the Mersey regional health authority's budget, and that there is a reduction of more than £1 million for the Liverpool district authority? That will mean further cuts in services, and, in the financial year 1984–85, will lead to further ward closures. Is that not a disgrace for a Government who claimed that the NHS was safe in their hands?

Mr. Rees

As the hon. Gentleman will be aware, resource allocation to district health authorities is the responsibility of regional health authorities. It is true that the health authority has decided that Liverpool's revenue budget should be reduced by 6 per cent. by 1988–89, but that is against the background of the projected 9 per cent. decline in population. Therefore, that would have been achieved with no reference to measures announced by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor in July. I remind the House that Liverpool should receive nearly £30 million of capital investment over approximately the same period to assist in rationalising services and providing more community-oriented facilities.

Mr. Latham

Will the new cash limits allow my right hon. and learned Friend to do something about the scandalous information, which has been just revealed, that the number of clerical and administrative staff in the NHS has increased since the abolition of area health authorities?

Mr. Rees

That must be a continuing exercise, independent of the measures announced by my right hon. Friend in July, but I am certain that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services and regional health authorities will take careful note of the point that my hon. Friend has properly made.

Mr. Pavitt

Is the Minister aware that the £7.5 million cut in the North-West Thames region has meant that the central Middlesex hospital in my area, which has a £1.2 million stop on capital expenditure by way of cash limits, takes only emergency cases in the summer months? Is he further aware that in the winter months it will be a disaster if there is increased morbidity?

Mr. Rees

I take note of the hon. Gentleman's point, but I repeat that it is for regional health authorities to determine the local needs and priorities in their areas.

Mr. John Townend

Will my right hon. and learned Friend confirm that, despite the reduction in cash limits, according to the Government's public expenditure plans, spending will rise in 1985–86 by 4.7 per cent., which could be greater than the rate of inflation? Does that not mean that the public will have to wait for any real reductions in public spending until 1986–87? Is that not leaving it a little late?

Mr. Rees

There are bound to be readjustments between various programmes. I note what my hon. Friend said about real reductions in public spending. No doubt we shall debate that later today and when the public expenditure White Paper covering the whole survey period is published next year.

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