§ Mr. Thorne
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether the new Preston District Hospital to replace the Royal Infirmary will now go ahead; and if she will make a statement.
§ Mrs. Castle
The North Western Regional Health Authority has been considering its building programme for 1974–75 in relation to the allocation of capital recently notified to it, as restricted by the current national economic situation. The question whether it would be possible both to begin building on the Preston site and also to start smaller projects elsewhere in the region to meet 401W other pressing needs, especially of elderly and mentally ill patients, required its very careful consideration. The authority has consistently emphasised its desire to proceed with work at Preston and I am informing it that, subject to discussion of details and to receipt of an acceptable tender, I hope to authorise sufficient finance to enable work to start on the Preston site during the present financial year.