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I apologise for arriving so late, Mr Deputy Speaker. I have been stuck in a meeting.
Let me begin by saying, without party rancour, that I shall vote against any measure that puts further power in the centralised hands of the Secretary of State. I apologise for going down memory lane as well, Mr Deputy Speaker, but 40 years ago, when I first represented my constituency as a local councillor, we had what I thought was a very effective health service consisting of local GPs’ surgeries, two cottage hospitals and a district hospital. In the 1980s the two cottage hospitals were closed, because a new Secretary of State—let us leave aside the party to which he belonged—decided that we did not need them, that all the services should be centralised in the district hospital, and that there should be some investment in the GPs’ surgeries. We occupied Hayes cottage hospital in an attempt to keep it open, but we lost the battle. However, it became a residential home in the end, so we had some success.
What happened next was that other Secretaries of State came along and moved some of the services from the district hospital to more centralised hospitals in central London. Then a new Government were elected and a new Secretary of State decided that we needed to devolve again, so we had Darzi polyclinics, which looked awfully like cottage hospitals to me. If you stand still for long enough, it all comes round again.
All that was basically a result of what we heard about from Nick de Bois: a lack of trust in local people. I believe that local people supported the original model of GPs’ surgeries, cottage hospitals and a well-resourced district hospital. If they had been listened to at the time, we would not have gone round in a huge contorted circle to get back to what was virtually square one. As I have said, I am very anxious about any measure that puts further power in the hands of the Secretary of State and overrides the wishes of local people.