My Lords, I add my welcome to the additional funds that are to be made available to health authorities and health bodies and, indeed, I welcome the timing. As many noble Lords will be aware, for health service managers happiness is measured in the number of extra days that they have before Christmas to plan what to do with their resources.
I was glad to hear the Minister say that he was fully in favour of passing down to local managers as many resources as possible. Will the Minister confirm that all the resources being announced today--that is, the average of 8.5 per cent followed by 6 per cent for the following two years in cash terms--will be allocated to health authorities without strings, conditions or any other circumstances surrounding them so that managers genuinely have the ability to plan not only for next year but also for the two further years without conditions?
Furthermore, will the Minister comment on the amount of money being held back at the centre? My calculation implies a significant increase in the amount of money not yet allocated to the health service. When will that money be allocated and when will health service managers have the opportunity to plan ahead to use it wisely for patient care?