§ Mr. Steen
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will issue a circular encouraging health authorities more fully to use their buildings by enabling other public sector and voluntary organisations to use health and community centres, especially in rural areas, once the professional work of those centres is over; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Kenneth Clarke
Section 26(3) of the NHS Act 1977 lays a duty on my right hon. Friend to make available to local authorities the use of premises, so far as this is reasonably necessary and practicable, for the discharge of their functions relating to social services, education and public health.
Hospital memorandum (69)58 gives guidance to health authorities on leasing premises to voluntary bodies and commercial undertakings for the provision of services where this is beneficial to patients and staff. The memorandum also envisages allowing supporting voluntary organisations the use of NHS premises for fetes, meetings and other appropriate functions. We do not normally encourage the use of health service premises for purposes not connected with health service or related social services.