HC Deb 06 December 1994 vol 251 cc136-7
11. Mr. Hardy

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people currently serve on the boards of NHS trusts as lay appointees; and what is the total cost of their emoluments.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley

There are currently nearly 2,500 non-executives and chairmen serving in 419 trusts in England. The latest provisional figures for 1993-94 give the cost of their remuneration as about £12,500,000 just one penny for every £11 of the trusts' turnover.

Mr. Hardy

In the light of that answer, which should be taken more seriously than the Secretary of State appeared to present it, will the right hon. Lady examine the claim that some trusts made inquiries about the political affiliations of those aspiring to be directors? Will she comment on the fact that a large proportion of directors of trusts have political affiliations with the Conservative party or are associated with businesses which give substantial support to that party? Does that not merit investigation in the public interest?

Mrs. Bottomley

Again, the hon. Gentleman chooses to make a rather vindictive point rather than heralding the dramatic improvements in his local trust, such as new endoscopy suites, out-patient departments, dermatology departments and physiotherapy departments. [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] I shall indeed answer the hon. Gentleman's question. I think that it is wrong to sack NHS chairmen because of their political persuasion, wrong to appoint people to health authorities simply because they are prospective political candidates and wrong to appoint people who are unable to be good stewards of the public purse. As for the Labour party, David Ennals sacked 32 chairmen because he thought that they were Conservative, and the Labour party appointed three people in Greenwich because they were prospective Labour candidates, and it appointed a disqualified Lambeth councillor to the health authority. We want people of good intent who mind about the health service. I do riot think that the Labour party should throw stones.