12. Mr. Alan W. Williams
To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on the public consultation process before an NHS hospital applies for and acquires trust status.
§ Mr. Nicholas Bennett
The requirements on public consultation are set out in section 5(3) of the National Health Service and Community Care Act 1990. Local residents, health service staff involved and community interests would be consulted before any decision was taken.
Is the Minister aware that, in his constituency, Pembrokeshire health authority intends to carry out a leaflet drop to persuade people that a hospital trust is a good idea? Is not it improper for a health authority to pay for a leaflet drop that obviously has strong political connotations? Should not the money for that leaflet drop come from the coffers of the Conservative party or, better still, from the Minister?
§ Mr. Bennett
It is quite in order for a health authority to explain to the people who live in its area the proposals that it is making to become a national health service trust. Indeed, it is vital for it to do so, because in recent weeks there has been misleading publicity in the local paper. That publicity, which was produced by the Labour candidate for Pembroke and supplied by the hon. Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Williams), was incorrect and he had to apologise. The article was headed "Labour Apology for Health Chief', and related to information provided by the hon. Gentleman, which he leaked from a Select Committee hearing whose minutes have not been published.