§ Mr. Patrick Jenkin
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he is satisfied that increases in gas prices, not taken account of in fixing cash limits, have not led to cut-backs in National Health Service services.
§ Mr. Ennals
Health authorities' cash limits, which are set before the start of the financial year, include an allowance calculated to cover the forecast effect of inflation in the coming year. Actual increases in the prices of specific commodities range around the average rate of 721W inflation and the effects on individual authorities vary according to their patterns of spending. There have been instances of substantial increases in gas prices, following re-negotiation locally of previous long-term contracts, but I am satisfied that the cash limited allocations to regional health authorities for 1977–78 contain adequate cover for the general level of price increases which have occurred.