Let me start by offering my huge thanks to all colleagues who have taken the time and trouble to come here and be incredibly articulate on behalf of their communities, because this is clearly a common problem. We have heard from Members representing areas from Keighley to Cornwall and all points in between, and I know that colleagues from the north-west, Oxfordshire and many other places were not able to be here to tell the stories of their constituencies.
I have been reflecting on what the Minister has said. When he described the current system, I heard the word “should” a lot, but in moving to the new system of the infrastructure levy, that word must change to “must”. In far too many cases, “should” simply has not resulted in delivery. At the heart of it, I think we can do this according to the numbers. A GP and primary care team should be able to expect a safe limit based on the population in their area. A younger, healthier population could have a larger limit, but a smaller patient load may be required in an area with an older, more disadvantaged population.
If we agree that there is a safe number of patients for a primary care team of GPs and practice staff, we can simply do it on the numbers and raise up those affected. When many more houses are built, we must have the additional capacity to serve those extra residents coming to the area. I hope that the infrastructure levy will provide everything we need, but when the Minister has that conversation with the Department of Health and Social Care, could he please invite the Treasury to that meeting as well? Quite frankly, if the infrastructure levy does not do the full job, we will have to go back to the Treasury. We will pay for this eventually, but we need to do it in a timely manner.
My final point is incredibly important. What the Minister is about to bring in must not just be future-looking. We all now have massive estates that are under-provisioned. He cannot just look to the future; he must deal with the current problem, which the existing system has allowed to get into a terrible state.
Question put and agreed to.
That this House
has considered general practice capacity for large-scale housing developments.