Is my hon. Friend aware that many general practitioners would like to buy an equity stake in a health centre, either through a long leasehold or through a freehold, and will he urgently consider sending revised instructions to the health authorities to make this possible?
I am aware of that, and I have already met representatives of the General Practice Finance Corporation. My right hon. Friend is considering proposals which it has made for increasing the amount which it can lend from £25 million to £100 million and for a scheme which would permit purchase and lease back of newly built practice premises. If accepted, these changes will require legislation.
The Minister said that he would continue to permit health centres to be built where there was a local demand. Does that mean where there is a demand from local people or only where there is a demand from the local general practitioners? If the latter, they will be able to continue to obstruct the development of health centres.
The hon. Gentleman does not seem to realise that it is not possible to run a health centre without the collaboration and joining in of the local general practitioners.