§ Q1. Mr. Dudley Smith
asked the Prime Minister if he will now appoint a Minister of Health from among the Members of the House of Commons.
§ The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Wilson)
There is no need, Sir. The functions of the Minister of Health were transferred on 1st November, 1968, to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services, who is a Member of this House.
§ Mr. Smith
Is the Prime Minister aware that, for the first time in living memory, there is no senior Minister with exclusive responsibility for health matters sitting in the House of Commons? Is not this indicative of the priority which the Government are giving to the modernisation of the National Health Service?
§ The Prime Minister
No, Sir. There is a still more senior Minister in the Cabinet responsible for these matters, and he is a Member of this House. I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman raised this point about senior Ministers in the Commons and in another place, since under the Government which he supported there sat in another place one Foreign Secretary, four Commonwealth Secretaries, one Minister of Defence, one Minister of Power, one Minister of Education, one Secretary of State for Air and four First Lords of the Admiralty.
§ Lord Balniel
As the National Health Service is perhaps one of the major public spending Departments of State and as many matters of importance to constituents, medical staff and patients have to be raised here, is it not right that the 199 Minister specifically responsible for health should be answerable to the House of Commons?
§ The Prime Minister
I am surprised that this sort of question should be raised by hon. Members opposite. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Social Services, who is responsible for all these matters, is also a member of the Cabinet. Not all Ministers of Health have been in the Cabinet. My right hon. Friend is responsible to the House of Commons and he is taking a close personal interest in the question of the modernisation of the National Health Service.