HC Deb 25 May 1988 vol 134 cc314-5
7. Sir Hector Monro

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many major hospital building projects are under construction and at what cost; and what were the comparable figures for 1978–79.

Mr. Rifkind

Ten major hospital building projects are currently under construction, estimated to cost some £97 million. Comparable figures for 1978–79 are not available, but provision for the health capital programme increased by 23 per cent. in real terms between 1978–79 and 1987–88.

Sir Hector Monro

Bearing in mind the complete failure of the Labour Government in the 1970s, does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that the capital programme is the biggest ever in real terms? Does he also agree that the increase in nurses' salaries and the very substantial future changes in the structure of the nursing profession must hold tremendous prospects for the National Health Service in Scotland?

Mr. Rifkind

My hon. Friend is quite correct. The hospital building programme in Scotland is the largest in the history of the National Health Service in Scotland. Since 1979, 53 major new hospital developments have been completed and there are 33 major developments currently in the programme, of which three are being commissioned, 10 are under construction and 20 are at the planning stage. That shows the commitment of the Government to ensure that Scotland has hospital facilities that we can be proud of and that will last into the next century.

Mr. Ernie Ross

Is it not the case that the hospitals that the Secretary of State was talking about were approved by the last Labour Government? Will he say how many approvals for new hospitals have been given since 1979?

Mr. Rifkind

I know that the hon. Gentleman is desperately trying to retrieve the situation, but he knows perfectly well that the hospital building programme was cut under the last Labour Government——

Mr. Ross

How many?

Mr. Rifkind

We measure Governments not by their claims but by their deeds. The hon. Gentleman has to live with the fact that the Government whom he supported cut the hospital building programme, while under this Government we have the biggest ever hospital building programme.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

While welcoming the real and demonstrable commitment of the Government to new hospital building in Scotland, may I ask my right hon. and learned Friend to ensure that health boards use properly those facilities that they have available? Will he bear that particularly in mind in the consideration that he will shortly be giving to the proper provision of maternity services in rural areas in Grampian, where there are good facilities which are wanted by the local community and which the health board is trying to close?

Mr. Rifkind

My right hon. Friend is correct. Given the vast resources that health boards have at their disposal, it is particularly important that they ensure that they get the best value for those resources in the interests of patients.

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