Contracts have now been exchanged for about two-thirds of the site and negotiations are nearing completion for the remainder. Meanwhile the planning of the proposed hospital is making good progress and is not being delayed by the negotiations for the acquisition of the land.
I am grateful for that rather more encouraging reply. Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that the acquisition of the remainder of the land is taking an inordinately long time? Although I appreciate the difficulties involved when land is in multiple ownership, is the Secretary of State aware that medical and nursing staff at this hospital are doing excellent work under great difficulty and that the delay is affecting members of the general public? Can he say when the physical work on the hospital is likely to be started?
The right hon. Gentleman agrees that there are difficulties when land is in multiple ownership, and I am afraid it is too soon to give a precise forecast of the starting date. It is expected that work will start before the end of the financial year 1975–76.