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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

Naturally, I relate my argument to the part of the country which I know best, but I will give the hon. Gentleman this assurance. I will get my colleagues who have the honour to represent other parts of the City of Leeds, part of which the hon. Gentleman also represents, to examine the situation there. If there is an improvement in Leeds, we shall see and, if there is, all we can say is that the Ministry in its allocations to the various regional boards has, in some way, discriminated against the City of Manchester.

In any case, I say that what is now proposed by the Minister of Health does not in any way meet the position. The right hon. Gentleman is simply juggling about within the existing total expenditure. It is my case that this total sum, which we were told on Second Reading by the Minister exceeds that for 1949–50 in real terms by about £51 million, is completely inadequate not only to expand the service, but even to maintain it at its present level. I assure the Minister, despite all the denials of his right hon. and hon. Friends, that we shall return to this subject after the Recess week after week at Question Time to seek to extract from him the facts by giving him a whole catalogue of hospitals in detail in regard to the number of beds, the staff position and expenditure. I am confident that the results of our inquiries will substantiate the case made by my hon. Friends and myself.

In conclusion, I say again that, despite all this juggling about within the total sum of expenditure, the Government will shortly be faced with a position in which they will be seeing all over the country a breakdown of the existing hospital services which will not be maintained at their present level. They will have to come back to the House with better proposals than they are putting before us at the moment. If they believe that a greater proportion of the financial burden of maintaining the Health Service should be transferred to the contributor through insurance contributions, let them come to the House and argue that, but, whatever they do and whatever happens in these next few weeks and months, I am convinced that the present sum earmarked for the service will clearly be proved to us in the near future to be totally inadequate to maintain the Service at its existing level.