With permission, I will answer Question No. 40.
With the agreement of the Board of Governors of Queen Mary's Hospital, Roehampton, and of the Board of Governors of Westminster Hospital, I have decided, subject to consultation with London University, and to any necessary consultation with the Charity Commission by the Roehampton Governors, to transfer the administration of Queen Mary's Hospital from my Department to the Board of Governors of Westminster Hospital.
The separate identity of Roehampton will be maintained and war pensioners will continue to have the same priority there as at present. I shall add to the Westminster Board of Governors not less than three members representative of the Roehampton Governors and of the ex-Service interests. The Governors and the ex-Service interests will also be substantially represented on the House Committee of the hospital. The services now provided by the Roehampton Governors will, of course, not be affected, and the administration of the Limb Fitting Centre will remain the responsibility of my Department as at present.
The arrangements which I have announced will give the Roehampton Governors and the ex-Service interests a direct share, which they have hitherto not had, in responsibility for running the hospital, and should guarantee the maintenance of its unique status.
Does my right hon. Friend realise that his decision will have the full support of the Roehampton Governors and of the ex-Service associations, as it will give them, for the first time since 1939, some say in the actual running of the hospital? What is even more important from my point of view is that it will keep this hospital, which has such a splendid record in the service of the war-disabled, right up to date from a medical and administrative viewpoint. Can my right hon. Friend say whether the extra governors whom he appoints will all come from Roehampton?
I am obliged to my hon. and gallant Friend for his assurance. Indeed, unless I had felt that these arrangements would command the support of the Roehampton Governors and ex-Service interests, I would not have thought it right to make them. My intention is that there shall be representation of the ex-Service interests as well at at least one member who is specially representative of the Governors.
Is the Minister aware that at their last meeting the Governors approved his decision in principle subject to the necessary safeguards that this hospital should continue as a national hospital for ex-Service disabled persons? What is to happen to the members of the Roehampton staff who are civil servants so far as their future employment and pensions are concerned?
The assurances for which the Roehampton Board asked are embodied in my statement. The future of the staff will be considered in detail over the coming months before the final order is made.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that he could not have selected or arranged for a better hospital than the Westminster for Roehampton to be associated with in its future work?
The reason is that the proportion of ex-Service men occupying beds at Roehampton has been falling and is now only about one-third of the total. In these circumstances, it seemed right that new arrangements should be made if the unique status of the hospital and the priority of the ex-Service man were to be absolutely safeguarded.