HC Deb 24 January 2002 vol 378 c1026 1.23 pm
Mr. David Lidington (Aylesbury)

I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 24, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely, the decision by the south east regional executive of the NHS to instruct every health authority and NHS trust in that region to implement cuts in planned expenditure and services by the end of the current financial year. The matter is specific and important. The cuts have been ordered by the regional chief executive to eliminate a projected deficit of £60 million in the NHS in the south-east of England. The cuts will apply to each NHS institution in Kent, Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Northamptonshire. The chief executive's letter is explicit in saying that savings will be required not only from those authorities and trusts that are at the moment projected to be in deficit at the end of the financial year, but from those that are set to break even or to achieve a surplus.

Ministers have made no public announcement so far, but it is now clear that the matter is urgent. A leaked letter to health authorities and trusts from the chief executive of the NHS south-east region, dated 14 January, demands immediate action to implement the savings required: Proposals need to be capable of being actioned to deliver savings before 31st March. I do not want reasons as to why savings cannot be achieved but proposals on what could be actioned. I recognise that this will mean reductions in areas that do not contribute to national imperatives … You should revisit all revenue and capital spending plans for the remainder of the year". We need a debate because local people have a right to know where the axe will fall. I hope that there will be an opportunity for Ministers to be questioned and to tell the truth to the House.

Mr. Speaker

I have listened carefully to what the hon. Gentleman has said and I have to give my decision without stating any reasons. I am afraid that I do not consider that the matter that he has raised appropriate for discussion under Standing Order No. 24, and I cannot therefore submit the application to the House.