Yes, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
The Minister will be aware of the Welsh proverb, dyfal donc a dyr y garreg. He will agree that, on this issue, each donc has been very dyfal indeed.
It gives neither my colleagues nor I any pleasure constantly to highlight the financial crisis which faces Gwynedd health authority. As my hon. Friend the Member for Caernarfon (Mr. Wigley) said, this is the third time in 14 months that we have taken part in a debate of this nature.
The authority has been facing recurrent cash crises for a number of years. We are told by the Minister and others that the authority has plans in hand to deal with its financial problems, yet we find ourselves in a real mess. When will the buck-passing stop?
The Secretary of State carries the ultimate responsibility for ensuring the delivery of a comprehensive health care service in Wales. That is made clear in the legislation that established the service and has been repeated in amending legislation ever since. While the Secretary of State delegates responsibility for the day-to-day provision of health care in Wales to area health authorities, if an authority fails to discharge its responsibility to provide a comprehensive service, the Secretary of State has a duty to intervene.
How can Gwynedd health authority provide that level of service if it closes small hospitals without replacing them with decent community provision, if it closes wards, cancels operations, prepares to sack up to 200 of its staff, faces a massive loss of confidence by consultants and other medical staff and has its management team severely criticised by consultants sent in by the Welsh Office?
Any further delay by the Welsh Office in tackling this problem will be a massive dereliction of duty. The Minister must assure us that he has a plan of action to solve the crisis. If that plan is positive and imaginative, he will have our full support.