HC Deb 20 June 1995 vol 262 c147
12. Mr. Lidington

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much public money she plans to spend on hospital building and refurbishment in the current financial year. [27723]

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley

Government capital spending on hospital and community health services is planned to be £1.8 billion in 1995–96, of which some two thirds is expected to be on hospital building and refurbishment. Capital spending stands at 59 per cent. higher in real terms than in 1978–79.

Mr. Lidington

Can my right hon. Friend confirm that that list will include the £23.5 million rebuilding and refurbishment programme for Stoke Mandeville hospital in my constituency, work on which is due to start this December? Will she continue to encourage national health service trusts to work in partnership with the private health sector wherever possible so that private health resources can be added to the very considerable sums already contributed by the taxpayer?

Mrs. Bottomley

I can, indeed, confirm that the Stoke Mandeville project is very much in the main stream. It is a major programme, offering substantial further improvements at a nationally, indeed internationally, famous hospital.

My hon. Friend is absolutely right that the private finance initiative offers substantial further advantages, to extend the capital programme in the NHS. That is another aspect over which the Labour party would cut off its nose to spite its face. It is not prepared to work with the private sector, and would allow patients to suffer to please its union paymasters.

Rev. Martin Smyth

Does the Secretary of State share my concern that we may not be obtaining value for money? Many capital projects are finished over time and over budget.

Mrs. Bottomley

Achieving value for money on capital programmes is fundamental to the good management of the NHS, and I can tell the hon. Gentleman that now, cost overruns and time overruns run to the tune of 7 and 9 per cent. When the Labour party was in power, it was about 30 per cent. It is a further example of substantially improved management in the NHS, from which patients and staff are benefiting.