HC Deb 21 December 1973 vol 866 cc471-2W
Mr. Biffen

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will list the amount by which he plans to reduce expenditure for 1974–75 and in the balance of the current year as a result of the statement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 17th December, indicating the main areas where such reductions will take place; and if he will make a statement.

Sir K. Joseph

Forecast expenditure for 1974–75 on the health and personal social services in Great Britain is planned to be reduced by £69.3 million on capital and by £42 million on current account. The saving which will be made in the remainder of 1973–74 will depend to a large extent upon the way in which the reductions for 1974–75 are arranged. I cannot at present give a figure.

The reduction in capital expenditure is bound to have a serious effect on the amount of new building work that can be started in 1974–75. I hope to avoid the need to rephase contracts or to interrupt work in progress.

The reduction of £42 million in procurement is not intended to reduce hos pitals' expenditure on food, drugs, dressings and medical and surgical equipment supplied to, or for the use of, patients, but it does apply to other procurement for hospitals and the personal social services.

The reductions are not intended to fall on the employment of staff, or on the family practitioner services. There will be no reduction in social security benefits.