35·3 per cent. in the mental hospitals and 28·9 per cent. in the mental-deficiency hospitals of the region at the end of 1953. The comparable national averages were 15·7 per cent. and 12·4 per cent.
Yes, I agree at once. Indeed, it is just because of that that the Newcastle Region has been given rather more than twice the allocation out of the "mental million" compared with what it would have received on an ordinary basis of population proportion. I am most conscious of the need in the Newcastle area.
There is a great deal of building, especially for mental deficiency work, in what we can call the "pipeline" at the moment, but I do not think that one could make an estimate of the effect that would have on percentage overcrowding, because it depends, for one thing, on the rate at which patients are cured.
asked the Minister of Health the number and total value of hospital capital projects costing over £100,000 started in the years 1953–54 and 1954–55, and proposed to be started in 1955–56; and which of these projects are located in the Newcastle Regional Board area.
In 1953–54 four such projects were started, with an estimated total value of £1½ million. In the current year 13 have been started so far, with an estimated total value of £2·8 million. I so far know of 12 further projects, estimated to cost £2·2 million, which are likely to start between now and the end of 1955–56, but programmes for 1955–56 are not yet available and these may include other projects of this order to be started in that year. Two of the 29 projects mentioned, estimated to cost a little over £540,000, are in the Newcastle region.
Is the Minister aware that there is a very strong feeling in the North-East Region, especially on Tyneside, that that area has been considerably neglected in the past? While I know some of the difficulties involved, may I ask if the right hon. Gentleman will do his best to ensure not only that urgently needed capital projects are proceeded with, but that there is sufficient revenue expenditure to see that they get going?
So far as Newcastle is concerned, I think that what matters is not the share in any particular sector, but the total share of the capital allocation. As I have said before in this House, Newcastle's share, while it may be inadequate for the need, is, in proportion, quite high when compared with other regions in the country.