§ Mrs. Hayman
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he will make a statement about the recognition of area and regional advisory committees under Section 8(2) of the National Health Service Reorganisation Act 1973.
§ Mr. Ennals
Area and regional advisory committees covering medical, nursing, dental, pharmaceutical and ophthalmic staff have been recognised under Section 8(1) of the National Health Service Reorganisation Act 1973. Section 8(2) provides that I may recognise similar advisory committees covering other groups of staff employed or practising in the National Health Service provided that I am satisfied that they are representative of the groups concerned and that it is in the interests of the National Health Service to do so. To date no such committees have been recognised, although committees have been established, without recognition, in a number of health authorities and their advice has been sought on an informal basis.
I have given very careful consideration, in consultation with chairmen of regional health authorities, to the question whether I should now take steps to recognise those committees which have been established. I have concluded that, in view of the efforts which health authorities are now making to control the costs of administration in the NHS, and which will be continued over the next three years, it would not be in the interests of the National Health Service to add to the costs of administration as would inevitably result from recognition of Section 8(2) committees. I will, however, review the matter in two or three years' time.