Orders of the Day — National Health Service Contributions Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 6th June 1957.

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Photo of Mr William Griffiths Mr William Griffiths , Manchester Exchange 12:00 am, 6th June 1957

Certainly. The hon. Member will realise that I chose a portion of his speech which is to my advantage, and of course I deny them.

I was about to say, though it may be the case in the hon. Gentleman's constituency, that it is not so in my case. It is exactly contrary in Yorkshire and the area presided over by the Manchester Regional Hospital Board. That is why I said during earlier discussions, and I say it again now, that it is an impertinence to ask my constituents and the people of Manchester, employers and employed alike, to make a higher contribution—through their National Insurance payments specifically reserved for National Health Service expenditure—for a Service which is, in fact, contracting.

If the hon. Member for Leeds, North-East doubts that it is contracting, I will tell him what is happening in Manchester. Would he be surprised to hear, for example, that at this moment the matrons of two Manchester hospitals have been told to engage no more nurses—though the hospitals are below establishment— because their wages cannot be met? One hospital management committee is currently obliged to consider—unless the Minister can find a remedy by providing the board with more cash—whether wards will have to be closed in a series of hospitals, including a most important cancer hospital. The chest clinic at the T.B. hospital, the casualty department at Wythenshawe hospital—I gladly name the hospital—and a series of wards are closing down.

I give the Minister fair warning that during the Whitsun Recess hon. Members on this side of the House who represent constituencies in various parts of the country—certainly that will include my own constituency—propose to examine this question in more detail. We shall appeal to those of our friends who have been working in hospital administration for the past few years to supply us with information so that we may come back to the House with specific and detailed examples to put before the Minister, and thereby confound the arguments advanced —I am sure in all sincerity—by the hon. Member for Leeds, North-East and the Minister, week by week and month by month, in an effort to preserve the idea that the services are expanding whereas, in fact, they are diminishing.