I meet health board chairmen on a regular basis and from time to time we discuss the hospital building programme, which is the biggest in the history of the national health service in Scotland.
I am grateful to you, Mr. Speaker.
The Scots, especially Leithers, want democratic control of the health service. Last year, they were promised a new hospital for Leith. No brick has been laid, and I understand that the Minister has done nothing about that. If he is anxious about the Scottish dimension, will he advise the bureaucrats on the health board and in his Department about what the people want? They certainly want a decent health service and we desperately need a hospital in Leith.
Will the Minister ensure that a clinic is established to look after HIV patients? It is no use suggesting, as I understand has been suggested, that sufferers of that disease should be shunted up a side street in my constituency. This is an emotive issue. I say to the Minister—
The hon. Gentleman does a disservice to the health service in Lothian, which has excellent facilities for HIV patients, and a specialist unit in Edinburgh was provided by the Government during the term of this Parliament. As to new hospitals, I am astonished that the hon. Gentleman is unaware that Lothian health board proposes to develop Leith hospital and to provide geriatric and psychogeriatric beds. Its proposals will come before Ministers shortly, although the board will have to consult on them. Does the hon. Gentleman also not know that Lothian health board plans to spend £200 million on a new teaching hospital for Edinburgh and new acute facilities? That is more than the last Labour Government spent on new building in the whole of Scotland in every year of office. The hon. Gentleman has a real nerve coming to the House to complain about Lothian health board's record, which is second to none.
Is not the Minister aware that the new Edinburgh teaching hospital was planned under the last Labour Government, and that it has taken 12 years for the Conservative Government to reach any decision? Is not the Minister further aware that my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Darling) and I have been informed that an announcement about that new hospital is being delayed until the general election campaign? Will the Minister confirm that it is part of the Government's cynicism and continuing propaganda to sit on that announcement until the election campaign begins?
I have no idea when the general election will be, but if the hon. Gentleman thinks that it will be held in the immediate future, Lothian health board will certainly not be in a position to present its acute strategy. I have no doubt that a Labour Government planned all sorts of things, but they were the only Government in the history of the health service to cut the health building programme. That is Labour's record. This Government have presided over the biggest health building programme in the history of the NHS. Good intentions do not treat the sick, but this Government have treated the sick.