I knew that the hon. Gentleman would say that. He made the same point in a written answer on 8 November, to which I shall refer in due course, but he has not answered my question. I was not going into the reasons why the waiting lists were so long. I was simply stating that they existed. If the numbers have increased slightly due to industrial action, I do not seek to deny it, but that does not answer the point that there were and would be in any event a large number of people waiting for urgent inpatient treatment. It is scandalous that at such a time the Government make pious noises about the Health Service being safe in the Prime Minister's hands while cutting expenditure on the service to the greater detriment of our constituents.
The 2,000 or more urgent cases are not the whole picture of the waiting list on Merseyside. There are 35,656 more individuals waiting for inpatient treatment, of whom 11,630 have been waiting for more than a year. Several thousand of those are fairly urgent cases. All those people are still waiting not because there was industrial action a year or more ago but because of the inadequacy of the services on Merseyside. They will have to wait in greater distress, pain and agony because waiting lists will increase and waiting time will lengthen as a result of recent Government action.
A more graphic demonstration of the problem is provided by the figures given by the Minister in a written answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) on 8 November. In St. Helens and Knowsley district health authority there were 3,558 people waiting for hospital treatment on 30 September 1981, but on 30 September this year the figure was 13,288. That is a dramatic increase in the number of my constituents in that district health authority area who are waiting for hospital treatment. The Minister does not like the figures, but they are important. Whatever their origin or cause, the figures show the scale of the problem and are a starting point. If we go behind the figures—[Interruption.] If the Minister wishes to intervene he knows the procedure. I shall gladly give way, but I cannot answer him while he is muttering.