HC Deb 12 May 1992 vol 207 cc487-9
11. Mr. Enright

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will make a statement about charitable fund raising for national health service services.

Dr. Mawhinney

We value the charitable contributions that people make to the health service through their voluntary efforts.

Mr. Enright

Is the Minister aware that a considerable number of hospital managers have declared that they are dependent on charity for their services? It must be true—it was in The Daily Telegraph. Is the Minister also aware that the Charity Commissioners have consistently stated—and I quote—

Hon. Members


Madam Speaker

Order. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman is not reading from any speech. [Interruption.] Hear me out, please. If the hon. Gentleman is quoting, that is not permissible. Will he please paraphrase?

Mr. Enright

Is the Minister further aware that the Charity Commissioners have consistently stated that moneys raised through charity cannot be used for statutory purposes in the health service? How does he square that circle?

Dr. Mawhinney

There is no circle to square. The health service is better funded now than ever before. As the hon. Gentleman quoted to me, I will paraphrase to him. A pressure group suggested recently that total charitable funding amounted to £370 million. I do not know whether that is right, but if it is, it represents £1 for every £92 of taxpayers' money going towards the health of the nation. I am surprised that the hon. Gentleman should adopt such a mean attitude to the voluntary activities of the many people who want to put something back into a health service that they value.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

While warmly welcoming the large sum of money raised from charitable sources for the national health service, can my hon. Friend assure the House that any such moneys that are raised either in districts or in regions will not be offset by reductions in money and resources from the Department of Health that would otherwise be made available for services or equipment to improve health care in this country?

Dr. Mawhinney

My hon. Friend has a good point and I am happy to give that categorical assurance. In fact, I would go further. Whatever money is raised by charitable activities is neither known nor taken into account by the Department when it comes to deciding how much taxpayers' money should be invested in the health service.

Ms. Lynne

Is the Minister aware of the tragic case of four-year-old Laura Davies, who is desperately in need of a bowel and kidney transplant which is not available in this country? The Manchester Evening News has mounted a campaign which we all welcome, but can the Minister say whether national health service money will be made available for that life-saving operation in the United States?

Dr. Mawhinney

I am aware of the case and I understand that discussions are proceeding to try to find a way to address that issue.

Mr. Couchman

Does my hon. Friend agree that for very many years people have enjoyed raising charitable funds for the health service because it gives them a sense of being involved in their own health care? Is not that wholly to be applauded, particularly as it frequently leads to the provision of capital equipment, the revenue consequences of which the NHS is then happy to take on?

Dr. Mawhinney

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. People wish to make contributions to the health service for a variety of reasons—some out of gratitude for the service that they or their families have received, others out of humanitarian concern, others out of Christian compassion, and for many other reasons. Only the most mean-spirited Opposition Members find that objectionable.

Mr. Robin Cook

Is the Minister aware that the charities report to which he referred concluded that the growth in NHS charities under the Government has been five fold? Does not that trouble him in the slightest? Has he no worries when the collecting can goes round for intensive care cots? Has he no concern that services for mental health and geriatrics, which are not charitable money spinners, might be left further behind? In his first month as Minister for Health will he remember the warning of the first Minister for Health that warm gushes of self-indulgence are not a reliable source of funding for a public health service?

Dr. Mawhinney

I will tell the hon. Gentleman what I shall remember. I shall remember a 56 per cent. real increase in spending on the NHS under this Government as against a 17 per cent. decrease under the last Labour Government. I shall remember a capital increase of 76 per cent. under this Government against a 29 per cent. decrease under the last Labour Government. I hope very much that the hon. Gentleman will come out of character and not be one of those mean-spirited people who want to stop those who wish to make a contribution over and above that of the taxpayer from doing so.