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National Health Service (Scotland) Bill

Volume 437: debated on Tuesday 20 May 1947

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Lords Amendments considered.

Clause 8—(Hospital Endowments Commission)

Lords Amendment: In page 9, line 13, after "fit" insert:

"being purposes relating to hospital or specialist services or to research into any such matters are are mentioned in Section seventeen of this Act."

9.42 p.m.

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

This Amendment makes it cleat that the purposes to which endowments may be re-allocated by the Hospital Endowments Commission must be within the field of hospital and specialist services, including research.

Question put, and agreed to.

Lords Amendment: In line 18, at end, insert "and."

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

This Amendment, together with the next Amendment, is consequential.

I do not think that this Amendment is consequential. It means that the Government are accepting, at a late date, an Amendment which was proposed in the Scottish Grand Committee. It has taken them a long time to realise that we were right, but we congratulate them on realising it now.

Question put, and agreed to.

Lords Amendment: In page in, line 7, leave out "five," and insert "seven."

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

I have always regarded it as important that the work of the Commission should be completed in the shortest possible time, because until the Commission actually review the particular endowments, those endowments can be applied only in accordance with their existing classes, which may have become inapplicable in the changed circumstances created by the Bill. As a guarantee, however, of the good faith of my intention that the Commission should complete the task themselves, I am content that their minimum period of office should be extended to seven years from five years. In that event, I confidently hope that no question of continuing the Commission in office for a further period will arise, although I must point out that there remains, in the Bill, a provision for that extension.

This Amendment raises a question of Privilege, and the necessary entry will be made in the Journal of the House.

We are very glad that the Government have seen fit to extend the term of service of the Commission in the hope that they may complete their work, and that it may not be necessary to extend their service beyond the period which is now laid down.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause 11—(Regional Hospital Boards, Medical Education Committees And Boards Of Management)

Lords Amendment: In page 13, line 46 at end, insert:

"and any other body or organisation which appears to the Board to be concerned "

9.45 P.m.

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

The Bill originally required regional hospital boards when framing schemes for the setting up of boards of management for individual hospitals or for groups of hospitals, to consult universities concerned. The effect of the Amendment which we are now considering is to extend this statutory requirement to cover consultations with such other bodies and organisations as appear to them to be concerned, as, for example, local authorities, existing voluntary hospital boards, and associations and authorities and hospitals.

The Government, of course, are up against a difficulty here. If they prolong their consultations too long, it will be very difficult to fit in the time-table. On the other hand, if they make a point of fitting the time-table consultation may be unduly curtailed. I hope the Minister can assure the House that he will be able to fit in all the necessary consultations and still have the machinery ready for that appointed day which he originally had in mind.

I can give that assurance, otherwise I would not be prepared to accept the Amendment from the other House.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause 14—(Conditions Of Service And Appointment Of Officers)

Lords Amendment: In page 17, line 6, at end, insert:

"the number of persons nominated under this sob-paragraph being, except in such circumstances as may be prescribed, equal to one half of the total number of members of the committee."

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

The effect of the Amendment is to secure that the university concerned has equal representation with the hospitals themselves on advisory committees concerned with the selection of doctors for appointments to posts involved in teaching as well as clinical duties. I might point out that the Amendment is so drafted as to allow this rule to be departed from in cases where the teaching duties are relatively unimportant. in comparison with the clinical duties.

I think the Amendment is an improvement in the Bill as it originally left this House but it does not in fact make a great concession. As the Secretary of State has just pointed out, even that small concession may be departed from in such circumstances as may be prescribed. We on this side of the House still feel uneasiness about the position in which the teaching appointments are left. The position in Scotland is not equal to that in England but we welcome the Amendment as a step in advance.

Might I ask one question on this matter? I would like to know if we are making it possible for a university in Scotland to have half the representation on these committees. I think we ought to know whether that is the same proportion as there is in England and Wales and Northern Ireland. If it is not approximately the same proportion, there would seem to be something wrong. We should be a little careful of this kind of thing. We should see whether matters are better adjusted in this respect in Scotland than in England. If they are we may take this as a precedent for amending another Act.

The short answer to my hon. Friend is this, that the Scottish Bill differs from the English Bill entirely. The set-up is different. Consequently the point as to whether it is the same in England does not arise. The setup with regard to teaching in hospitals is entirely different under our method of approach, from what it is in England.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause 15—(Health Centres)

Lords Amendment: In page 17, line 28, leave out "services which local health," and insert "health services which local health or education."

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

The effect of this Amendment is to make it clear that facilities can be provided by the Secretary of State at health schools which was always my intention. This makes it still more clear.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause 17—(Research)

Lords Amendment: In page 18. line 29, at the end, insert:

"or to the development of medical of surgical appliances including hearing aids."

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

This Amendment will not affect the administration but will be of assistance as far as research is concerned, and I feel, therefore, that the object will he acceptable to the House, because research is being carried out and we want to encourage it as far as we can.

I am glad that the Government have accepted this Amendment, because both on the English Bill and on the Scottish Bill concern was expressed from all quarters of the House about the position of the deaf and their aids. It is one of the matters where we are far behind and where any assistance which the Government can give will be most valuable. I think it is encouraging that even at this late stage, the Government have recognised the necessity for including something in the Bill to draw attention to this most important question.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause 34—(Arrangements For General Medical Services)

Lords Amendment; In page 27, line 9, leave out from "for" to "in," and insert:

"securing a right to any person to choose or to change."

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

This Amendment will make it clear, as was always our intention, that a person should be entitled to change his family doctor in the new service from time to time as well as choose him originally.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause 43—(Disqualification Of Persons Providing Services)

Lords Amendment: In page 39, line 17, after "section", insert:

"shall be informed, as soon as may be, of the substance of any charge or complaint to which the inquiry relates and."

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

The effect of this Amendment is to make it clear, as was always intended, when a petitioner comes before a tribunal on a representation that he should be excluded from the services, he must be given a statement of the charge and the complaint into which the tribunal is inquiring.

It is indeed gratifying to find that the Government now appreciate certain matters which we placed before them during the early stages of the proceedings on the Bill, and are making absolutely clear what are the intentions of the various Clauses. This Amendment makes the position very much clearer, and we are very glad to see those words here.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause 77—(Arbitration)

Lords Amendment; In page 59, line 12, at end, insert:

"and at any stage in the proceedings in any such arbitration the arbiter may and shall if so directed by the Court of Session state a case for the opinion of that Court on any question of law arising in the arbitration."

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

The effect of the Amendment is to extend the procedure which is followed when arbitration is resorted to in cases of dispute. This case will arise mainly in connection with the transfer of hospitals to the Secretary of State. For example, under Clause 6 (6) covering the apportionment of voluntary hospital property which is transferred and, under Clause 7 (9), covering the apportionment of property which ranks in part as an endowment of a voluntary hospital, and Clause 9 (9, a) covering other questions arising as to the transfer of a property. There may be legal questions involved in connection with these arbitrations and, for those reasons, I am willing to accept the Amendment.

I am glad that the Government have accepted this Amendment. The House may be aware that, whereas in England it is the general rule that there should be appeals on points of law from arbitrators to the High Court, in Scotland the general rule is that an arbitration is final both on law and fact. Some people think that that is all right where the arbitration is entered into voluntarily by people who know what the consequences are, but I think it ought to be a general rule that a statutory compulsory arbitration should include this provision of an appeal on a point of law. I am glad to see that the Government recognise that, and I hope that in similar cases in future we shall have this kind of provision wherever there is statutory arbitration.

Question put, and agreed to.

Remaining Lords Amendments agreed to. (Several with Special Entries.)