Modernising Government Programme

Oral Answers to Questions — Cabinet Office – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 21st March 2001.

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Photo of Mr John Wilkinson Mr John Wilkinson Conservative, Ruislip - Northwood 12:00 am, 21st March 2001

If she will make a statement on progress with the modernising government programme. [153304]

Photo of Ian McCartney Ian McCartney Minister of State, Cabinet Office

We are making excellent progress, as illustrated in "Citizens FirstOpen All Hours", the modernising government annual report, which was published in September.

The hon. Member for Ruislip-Northwood (Mr. Wilkinson) should be aware of the strong consumer focus of the London borough of Hillingdon. For example, as part of the best value review, the council consulted residents widely to ensure that proposals are geared to local needs. Those proposals include more foster carers, action to tackle fly-tipping and a telephone call centre operating out of hours.

Photo of Mr John Wilkinson Mr John Wilkinson Conservative, Ruislip - Northwood

May I remind the right hon. Gentleman that the aim of the modernising government programme was to involve public service users, not providers, more closely in matters affecting their lives? In that context, how can he justify the action of the NHS in ignoring so far the 100,000 petitioners who have urged that Harefield hospital be retained and built up? How is it that a vested interest, such as the Kensington, Chelsea and Westminster health authority, which is a member of the regeneration partnership, can lead the consultation on the future of the hospital?

Photo of Ian McCartney Ian McCartney Minister of State, Cabinet Office

I have no detailed knowledge of individual hospitals and shall write to the hon. Gentleman. However, there has been a 6.7 per cent. increase in the NHS allocation in his area; £184 million has been allocated for next year, compared with the previous allocation of £169 million. More than £500,000 has been invested in modernising an accident and emergency unit; there is £500,000 for a new cancer network; and tens of thousands of pounds have been allocated to reduce the area's long waiting lists.

The Government are modernising the health service; the Tories just want to privatise it.

Photo of Andrew Miller Andrew Miller Labour, Ellesmere Port and Neston

I congratulate my right hon. Friend on the progress that has been made on developments in UK Online, especially the section on life events, which will provide a great service to the public at times of great need. May I suggest that one way of improving the site and monitoring its success would be to establish a link for Members of Parliament to feed in suggestions about how to develop it further?

Photo of Ian McCartney Ian McCartney Minister of State, Cabinet Office

I am more than happy to offer every Member of Parliament the opportunity to express their ideas. Indeed, one aim of the site is to seek information on a regular, daily basis from its users about how to improve both it and the services that it provides. As a consequence, we shall improve the site, based on customer feedback. If my hon. Friend wants to make suggestions, I will ensure that we try to incorporate them, so long as they are good.