Mr David Gibson-Watt: I shall endeavour to reply to most of the points that have been raised, but if I do not satisfy the inquiries of all those who have spoken I hope that I shall be forgiven. I intend to aim specifically at what has been my particular responsibility for the past three years—the hospitals and the health services of Wales. We would certainly all endorse the basic aim that the patients and the...
Mr David Gibson-Watt: With the leave of the House, may I, having had a lecture on democracy from the right hon. Member for Deptford (Mr. John Silkin), be allowed to reply. I thought I had given my own Member of Parliament, the hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor Mr. Roderick), a general answer on the problems of Powys. I assure him that my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Wales will take...
Mr David Gibson-Watt: The hon. Member has already made an extreme speech, more extreme than usual, and I remind him that one cannot run a health service without doctors. If the right hon. Member for Deptford wants this many neighbourhood councils, there is nothing to stop them being set up. There is nothing to stop an area of the size of a parish council deciding that it cares so much about the hospitals in its...
Mr David Gibson-Watt: I see the hon. Gentleman's point. If I cannot go all the way
Mr David Gibson-Watt: It may be convenient for me now to answer the points made by my hon. Friend the Member for Pembroke (Mr. Nicholas Edwards) and the hon. Member for Cardigan (Mr. Elystan Morgan), who was kind enough to advise me that he intended raising this matter. The status of the report is that it was made by Miss Margaret Stacey to the Welsh Hospital Board and not to the Welsh Office. The report is being...
Mr David Gibson-Watt: When the locum was appointed on 1st January 1970, the waiting lists for in-patient and out-patient treatment stood respectively at 1,121 and 711. On 31st March 1973, the latest date for which figures are available, the figures were 1,905 and 613. I understand that the Welsh Hospital Board does not propose to extend the temporary consultant appointment.
Mr David Gibson-Watt: I say at once that there is great consideration and great compassion, and I am the first to admit that the length of the lists in South-East Wales is longer than it should be. It has been long for a considerable time; I have the figures with me. But that, of course, does not make the position any better. An additional permanent consultancy post in general surgery was filled at Newport last...
Mr David Gibson-Watt: I agree with my hon. Friend that the existing and newly elected councils should co-operate, particularly in the provision of accommodation. But I have no powers to enforce co-operation.
Mr David Gibson-Watt: That is probably true but I cannot give my hon. Friend any details. If he would like to have them, I can get in touch with him.
Mr David Gibson-Watt: I note what the right hon. Gentleman says in the first part of his question and I feel sure that my right hon. and learned Friend has heard what he said in the second part.
Mr David Gibson-Watt: The borough council has sent me a copy of the report of the independent inspector appointed by it to look into the operation of the home improvement grant scheme in its area and of the housing committee's recommendations on the report. The day-to-day handling of improvement grants is a matter for the local authority, to which I am content to leave it.
Mr David Gibson-Watt: The hon. Gentleman has also exposed his feelings in two letters to the Welsh Office. I will only say that the inspector's report deals with this matter. I would like to congratulate the Newport Borough Council on the inspired way in which it has tried to carry out this scheme, even though it has had some difficulties.
Mr David Gibson-Watt: I have no statement to make on that subject today.
Mr David Gibson-Watt: I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West (Sir A. Meyer) for raising this very important subject and for the balanced speech to which he has treated us. It is a subject in which he has shown deep interest for a long time, and I welcome this opportunity of dealing with some of the more important issues at stake rather more fully than has yet been possible. The proposals for...
Mr David Gibson-Watt: The model form of contract for consultants and medical assistants recommended by the Welsh Office and agreed by the profession requires their private residences to be not more than 10 miles by road from their base hospital. There is, however, power for the Welsh Hospital Board to authorise a greater distance than this.
Mr David Gibson-Watt: I can certainly give that general assurance. It is open to the consultant to apply to the board for a variation of his contract in this respect. In his report, Professor Gray recommended that in the long term there should be four paediatric consultants and in the long term it is still the intention of the Welsh Hospital Board for one to come within this area.
Mr David Gibson-Watt: As the hon. Gentleman knows very well, the problem in Wales is sparsity of population over a large geographical area. As the result of a decision taken by the Department on 5th April this year, a paediatrician is to be appointed at Aberystwyth. That will put it well above the national average in this respect.
Mr David Gibson-Watt: Returns to date show that about 11,500 acres of land mostly in South Wales have been identified as likely to be available for housing over the next five years.
Mr David Gibson-Watt: I think that it is satisfactory. I think that in Glamorgan alone 3,900 acres have been identified, and already £2·8 million has been committed in loan consents to four local authorities for the purchase of about 262 acres. I think that the position is encouraging.
Mr David Gibson-Watt: The figures were 3,502, 6,513 and 5,453 respectively.