HC Deb 24 February 1998 vol 307 cc165-6
10. Mr. Laxton

What progress has been made in the PFI hospital building programme since 1 May. [29324]

Mr. Dobson

Before the general election, the tired old Tory Government spent more than £30 million on legal and other fees for the private finance initiative programme but did not make a start on one hospital. Since May last year, I have authorised progress on 17 new hospitals. Building work has already started at Dartford and Gravesham; Carlisle; Norfolk and Norwich; and the two hospitals in South Buckinghamshire.

Mr. Laxton

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the centrepiece of this Government's legislation is to start, through the private finance initiative, to build the hospitals that the previous Conservative Government only promised? Does he further agree that whereas, if I can use this phrase, the previous Government were all mouth and no trousers, he is mouth and trousers?

Mr. Dobson

I am not sure whether that is a compliment or an insult, but I shall assume that it is a compliment as it comes from our side of the House.

Besides the hospitals that I have just mentioned, where building work has already started, we expect work to start fairly soon in North Durham and Calderdale; within a foreseeable period at Hereford, Wellhouse, Greenwich, Worcester, South Manchester, South Tees, Bishop Auckland, Swindon and Marlborough and Bromley; and, following the outcome of the Turnberg review in London, at University College hospital in my constituency, at St. George's, the Royal London, King's and Oldchurch. That is not bad going considering we have not yet been in office for a year.

Sir Sydney Chapman

As the previous Government gave the go-ahead for the development of phase 1b at Barnet general hospital and the new Government have decided not to reopen the accident and emergency department at Edgware, and understanding that the new Government wanted time to review all the hospital building programmes, will the Secretary of State tell the House when construction work will start on phase 1b at Barnet general hospital?

Mr. Dobson

I cannot, but I will write to the hon. Gentleman with that information.

Forward to