§ Considered in Committee reported, without Amendment.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Bill be now read the Third time.
§ 12.19 p.m.
§ Mr. Anthony Fell (Yarmouth)
I wish to put a couple of questions to my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health, but before I do so, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I wonder whether you would allow me to apologise to him and to the House for not having been able to be present last Friday when the Bill received a Second Reading.
Many hon. Members are from time to time faced with the problem of having very important engagements in their constituencies—this applies even to independent Members, who have a certain amount of support in the country—at a time when it is their duty to attend the House.
I fully recognise that the House has first call upon one's time. Therefore, I take in good part the words of the hon. Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Mellish), who said that I was very naughty not to be here but that he expected I had good reasons for my absence. It is a little odd that he himself is not here this morning in view of his, as usual, brilliant speech.
§ Mr. B. T. Parkin (Paddington, North)
I am sure that the Parliamentary Secretary will be glad that my hon. Friend 740 the Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Mellish) is not here this morning.
§ Mr. Fell
I wish that he were here.
On Second Reading my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary said:Thirdly, the hospital is only partly used at present while there is great need for accommodation for mental patients in the region, other hospitals being very overcrowded. As part of the National Health Service, the hospital could undoubtedly be put to better use."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th November, 1957; Vol. 577, c. 1301.]For that reason, if for no other, I should have thought that the hon. Member for Bermondsey would warmly welcome the Bill. I wonder whether my hon. Friend can say what number of places is likely to become available because of the transfer. Finding accommodation for mental patients in the Eastern Region, especially in Norfolk, has been a tremendous problem for a long time.
The other matter I wish to mention concerns the cost of the transfer. I understand that the cost of running the hospital was about £60,000 a year and that when the responsibility is transferred to the East Anglian Regional Hospital Board the cost may increase to £80,000 a year. Can my hon. Friend give an assurance that in the budgeting for the East Anglian Regional Hospital Board that amount will automatically be taken into consideration when the Board's overall budget is sanctioned? That is very important, since one knows the financial methods of some people. I hope that this transfer will be purely automatic and that there will be no cutting down because the Regional Hospital Board has accepted this additional responsibility.
Yarmouth has always had a strong link with the Navy, a solid link which goes back for many years to the days of Nelson—although the history of the hospital is queer. Nevertheless, I for one cannot but welcome any Bill which will relieve the serious lack of accommodation for mental patients in the area.
§ 12.23 p.m.
§ Mr. A. G. Bottomley (Rochester and Chatham)
I have a personal reason for welcoming the Third Reading of the Bill. My constituents in Chatham would like to see the naval hospital there come under the hospital management committee—but that is a subject which I must not pursue, or I shall be out of order.
741 The Minister himself has recognised that this is about the unhappiest time for the transfer of responsibility for this hospital to his Department. Hospital staffs are discontented and have instituted an overtime ban. Although it is not working—and I was among those who said it would not be very effective—it may result in the break-tip of the Whitley Council machinery and even in strikes, at a time when we are taking additional servants from an Admiralty hospital. I urge upon the Minister that this is an added reason why he should bring about a settlement of this dispute between the hospital staffs and his Department.
§ 12.24 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health (Mr. Richard Thompson)
I am grateful to the right hon. Member for Rochester and Chatham (Mr. Bottomley), for his kind remarks about the Bill. Although I must not follow him in his reference to Chatham, I can say that when I was in the Navy during the war I was a patient in that establishment and I can well believe that his constituents may have hungry eyes upon it.
It will be generally agreed that this modest Measure will have the entirely desirable and beneficial effect of a sensible reallocation of available resources in an area where they are sorely needed. I am sure that we will all acquit my hon. Friend the Member for Yarmouth (Mr. Fell) of discourtesy in not being here for the Second Reading, because we know that, like many others of us, he is active in the country.
There are 236 beds in the hospital and at present there are 151 patients. That means that there should be a net gain of 85 beds to the Regional Hospital Board, assuming that the number of patients does not alter in the meantime. This is quite an accretion of strength and I am pleased to think that beds which could not be used under the old arrangement will become available in this way.
My hon. Friend asked about the finances of this matter. It is true that in order to cope with this additional capacity, the hospital management committee concerned will have to have additional 742 money to run the hospital. I can assure my hon. Friend that that point is accepted and that the necessary funds will be made available. We do not yet know which management committee will be responsible for the administration of the hospital. There are three possible choices—the Norwich, Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth, the No. 7 Group and the No. 8 Group Hospital Management Committees. It looks as though the choice will probably fall on the No. 7 Group Hospital Management Committee which at present administers one large mental hospital, St. Andrews Hospital at Thorpe, Norwich.
The right hon. Gentleman made a passing reference to the differences in the hospital service. I take his point about that. We have had ample discussion of the matter in the last few days and I shall repeat only what I said on the previous occasion, that nobody supposes that the differences will be permanent and that in the meantime we should not be deterred from taking steps which in the end will be beneficial to the hospital service merely because the differences exist.
§ Mr. Arthur Moyle (Oldbury & Halesowen)
This is a technical point. Assuming that the staff concerned agree—and I am mainly concerned with the general and domestic staffs—to assimilation into conditions of service generally prevailing, if subsequent increases in pay are granted to staffs, will those increases also apply to the staff of this hospital?
§ Mr. Thompson
Yes, that is so. The hon. Member may be interested to know that, following last week's debate, the staff of the Yarmouth Hospital sent a small deputation to the surgeon-captain of the hospital to say that they were most satisfied with the options offered to them, so we can take it that that part of the operation has got away to a good start.
I commend the Bill to the House and hope that it will be given a Third Reading.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.