§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read:
§ THE PAYMASTER-GENERAL (LORD ARNOLD)
My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lord Muir Mackenzie I beg to move the Second Reading of this Bill. It is a non-controversial measure, and I can outline its provisions in two or three minutes. It passed through another place without amendment, and it is, as a matter of fact, a Certified Money Bill. Owing to the exceptional conditions which prevail in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland—the great distances, the climatic conditions and the straitened financial circumstances of many of the inhabitants—it is exceedingly difficult for the people to obtain the proper medical attention which they require, and it was the recognition of this fact in 1913 which led Parliament, in that year, to give 1270 special State assistance towards the improvement of the Highlands and Islands medical services. In that year an annual Grant was made for these purposes of £42,000 a year, and out of that money there are paid grants to doctors for their services, chiefly so that they will attend cases irrespective of distance, which is vital. Moreover, some of the money has been used for better nursing and surgical services.
The amount is £42,000 a year, but during the War that £42,000 each year was by no means wholly expended, and a balance accumulated to the credit of the Fund. Since the War things have been more normal. What I may call the authorised scheme has been in operation and the expenditure has been increased; as a matter of fact for some time it has exceeded the income. For instance, in the current year, the expenditure will be about £70,000, and the accumulated fund, to which I have referred, has been used up, so that it is necessary for Parliament to provide some additional money. That is what this Bill does. It is intended that this shall be done in future by placing the amount on the Estimates of the Department of Health for Scotland year by year, and not by a fixed annual Grant. For the current year actually over £10,000 is required, which means that as far as the current year is concerned the £42,000 has been used, and also the £20,000 of accumulated balance, and a little more than £10,000 will be required. In the future the amount which will be required in addition to the £42,000 will probably be in the neighbourhood of £30,000. I hope I have made the position clear.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Arnold.)
§ On Question, Bill read 2a and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.
§ LORD ARNOLD
As this is a Certified Money Bill we propose, with your Lordships' permission, to take the Committee stage to-morrow.