HC Deb 27 March 1984 vol 57 cc135-6
14. Mr. Chapman

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many hospitals were closed upon the decision of the Secretary of State between May 1979 and March 1984; and what were the comparable figures for the period from March 1974 to May 1979.

Mr. Fowler

Between May 1979 and December 1983 there have been 159 whole closures of hospitals, which compares with a figure of 270 whole closures under the last Labour Government. Of those closures, the numbers approved by Ministers were 32 and 35 respectively.

Mr. Chapman

I thank my right hon. Friend for that information. Is he aware that many people listening to Labour propaganda will be surprised to learn that the Labour Administration closed down many hospitals, and even more surprised that that Government closed down almost twice as many hospitals as the Conservative Government in an equivalent period?

Mr. Fowler

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The Labour Government carried out the biggest capital cut in the history of the National Health Service. From 1976–77 to 1977–78 capital spending was reduced from £356 million to £314 million, which was a cut of £160 million in real terms.

Mr. Ron Lewis

Can the Minister advise the House of the number of his next planted question?

Mr. Fowler

I am sorry that we should have caught the hon. Gentleman on such a sore point. I repeat that those figures on capital spending inside the Health Service deserve to be better known.

Mr. Alexander

Can my right hon. Friend tell the House whether any of the hospitals closed were listed buildings and, if so, their likely use in future?

Mr. Fowler

Not without notice. I shall consider the matter and write to my hon. Friend.

Mr. Norman Atkinson

If the Secretary of State wanted a planted question, should he not have got the Opposition to ask it, because the net loss of beds under his Administration is far greater than it was under the Labour Government?

Mr. Fowler

That is not so. If we wanted planted questions, we already have the Leader of the Opposition.


Mr. Chapman

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. It was alleged earlier that I planted question No. 14. Will you rule that, if that is on the record, I am entitled to deny it? Do you agree—it is well known to hon. Members, not least the hon. Member for Carlisle (Mr. Lewis)—that the only things I am guilty of planting are trees?

Mr. Speaker

The planting of questions is a colloquialism which is unknown to me.