§ Mr. Parry
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) if he will make a statement on the fire hazard in the construction of the new Liverpool Teaching Hospital, details of which have been sent to him by the hon. Member for Liverpool, Scotland Exchange;
(2) what liaison exists between his Department, the fire authorities and contractors concerning the construction of the new Liverpool Teaching Hospital;
(3) who will bear the estimated £8 million extra cost of making the new Liverpool Teaching Hospital fireproof;
(4) if he will order an inquiry into the £8 million addition costs of making the new Liverpool Teaching Hospital fireproof;
(5) what is the estimated final cost of the construction of the new Liverpool Teaching Hospital;
(6) what is now the estimated final completion date of the new Liverpool Teaching Hospital;
(7) if he was made aware of the possible fire hazards in the new Liverpool Teaching Hospital when he visited the site on his recent visit to Liverpool;
(8) on what date possible fire hazards were discovered in the new Liverpool Teaching Hospital; what steps were taken; and when he was informed.
§ Mr. Moyle
The fire precautions problem at the new Liverpool Teaching Hospital arises partly from the general design of the building and partly from the details of its construction. Although the building conformed generally with the building regulations and bylaws which were in force when it was designed in the middle 1960s these only laid down minimum standards and the full extent and complexity of the problem only became clear after the Mersey Regional Health Authority invited the Merseyside Fire Brigade654W to inspect the building late in 1975. The Fire Officer's final report submitted in April 1976 showed that the necessary work would not only be extensive but probably difficult to carry out because of the advanced stage of the building's construction and the Mersey Regional Health Authority, its professional consultants and the contractors have been working in close co-operation with my Department, the Merseyside Fire Brigade, the Home Office, the Department of the Environment and the Fire Research Station in order to reach a solution which will produce a properly safe hospital without doing avoidable damage to a building which is already structurally complete, or imposing any greater delay on its commissioning than is necessary. This is a difficult task but a solution has now been reached, subject to further discussion on the time-table for carrying the work out and to the completion of a test programme designed to establish the details of what needs to be done to the podium roof. My right hon. Friend was made aware of the progress which had been made when he visited the site on 20th December and there can be no question of allowing patients to occupy a building which is not safe. The cost of building this teaching hospital is met mainly from the NHS capital programme; a contribution is also made by the University of Liverpool out of a grant made by the University Grants Committee.
It was clear that inquiry was needed into the reasons why the nature and extent of the fire precautions problem had not been fully realised earlier and in October 1976 the Mersey Regional Health Authority appointed an independent assessor to investigate the way in which the design of the hospital was developed.
The cost of the main hospital including the university clinical departments and clinical sciences block is now estimated to be £54.2 million excluding fees and equipment but this will be subject to increases in wages and the price of materials between now and completion. The completion date depends on the programme for carrying out fire precautions work and that has still to be finalised.