HC Deb 16 March 1979 vol 964 cc377-8W
Mr. Patrick Jenkin

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services why full-time paid employment by a trade union does not constitute a personal interest for the purposes of membership of health authorities.

Mr. Ennals

There is nothing in the relevant Acts or regulations to prevent a person who is a full-time paid employee of a trade union from serving on a health authority. It would be against the interests of the Health Service for members of health authorities, once appointed, to act as the representatives of particular interest groups, and I would neither appoint nor reappoint anybody who would allow the interests of his employers, whoever they may be, to influence his judgment of what was in the best interests of the NHS.

In considering appointments, the National Health Service Reorganisation Act, enacted in 1973 by the previous Administration, lays on me the duty (in relation to membership of regional health authorities) and on regional health authorities (in relation to the membership of area health authorities) to consult any federation of workers' organisations as appear to me or them to be concerned. Trade unions, when consulted in pursuance of this duty, sometimes put forward the names of full-time union employees for consideration for health authority membership; I give these suggestions equal consideration with names from other sources. I am sure I am right to do so.