New Hospitals

Oral Answers to Questions — Hospitals – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 2 December 1963.

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Photo of Dr Dickson Mabon Dr Dickson Mabon , Greenock 12:00, 2 December 1963

sked the Minister of Health how many new hospitals were built in 1962, and how many have been built so far in 1963.

Photo of Mr Anthony Barber Mr Anthony Barber , Doncaster

In England and Wales, in 1962 phases of two new and eight substantially remodelled hospitals were completed and brought into use; in 1963, so far, one new general and one new dental hospital, and phases of one new and four substantially remodelled hospitals, have been completed and brought into use.

Photo of Dr Dickson Mabon Dr Dickson Mabon , Greenock

Does the Minister agree that that is a remarkable performance compared with the proposals which the nation is reading now and which his predecessor made in 1960? Does he realise that in 1960 the Minister promised a rate of expenditure of over £70 million a year but that it has in fact been running at only half that figure? Will he now undertake that all this money will be spent in 1963–64, thus fulfilling all the pledges which have been made?

Photo of Mr Anthony Barber Mr Anthony Barber , Doncaster

If the hon. Gentleman wishes to make comparisons, I would say that it is a remarkable achievement compared with the period from the beginning of the National Health Service to the end of 1951, when only two new hospitals were started. At present no fewer than 65 new or substantially remodelled hospitals are in progress.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Robinson Mr Kenneth Robinson , St Pancras North

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that both he and his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland have been asked Questions by me about the number of new hospitals planned and started in recent years? Is he further aware that I find it quite impossible to reconcile the Answers I received with the statement made by the Prime Minister on the first day of the debate on the Gracious Speech that one new hospital was being started every nineteen days? The figure is nothing like as good as that.

Photo of Mr Anthony Barber Mr Anthony Barber , Doncaster

I can assure the hon. Gentleman that, if he looks into it a little further, he will find that there is nothing inconsistent between the words of the Prime Minister and what my right hon. Friend and I have said. The fact is that last year fourteen new or substantially remodelled hospitals were started. This year twenty-one either have been or will be started. [Interruption.] We have another month to go. Next year the figure will be increased to twenty-eight.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Robinson Mr Kenneth Robinson , St Pancras North

Is the right hon. Gentleman saying that there is no difference between a new hospital, which was the phrase employed by the Prime Minister, and a substantially remodelled hospital? Will he ask his right hon. Friend to explain this discrepancy to the House?

Photo of Mr Anthony Barber Mr Anthony Barber , Doncaster

With all respect to the hon. Gentleman, I will put this as mildly as I can. If what he wants is useful information rather than party political propaganda, obviously one must, as anybody concerned with this matter knows, consider together new and substantially remodelled hospitals.

Photo of Mr Jo Grimond Mr Jo Grimond , Orkney and Shetland

As the right hon. Gentleman will be aware, a certain amount of party political propaganda has already been made out of this matter. May we be informed of the date from which the Government began building a new hospital a week?

Photo of Mr Anthony Barber Mr Anthony Barber , Doncaster

I do not know, Sir. All I can tell the right hon. Gentleman is that in this year—[HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."]—in this year we are most certainly starting once every nineteen days a new or substantially remodelled hospital.