asked the Minister of Health why he is unable to ascertain how many persons are now in receipt of payment for jobs in hospitals which were done voluntarily prior to 5th July, 1948.
I could no doubt ascertain the numbers, but do not consider it of sufficient importance to justify asking for a special return from 2,835 hospitals when they are so fully occupied otherwise.
Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that this is a matter of administration which he could ascertain from those responsible for the administration without interfering with the medical service which has to be given in these hospitals? Is not it right that Parliament, which votes this money, should ensure that there is no unnecessary extravagance?
The administration of the hospital is responsible for providing the medical services of the hospital. If the administration have additional work to do they cannot do their medical administration as they should—[HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense."] As I have had interpolations of "nonsense" I would point out that it is from the other side of the House that we are continually having reproaches about administrators having to fill up too many forms, and there being too much paper work. Further, it would be necessary to investigate how every voluntary hospital in Great Britain did its work before and compare that with how it is doing its work now in order to get this information.
Would not it be in the public interest if sample inquiries could be made, not necessarily covering all the hospitals, to find out the dimensions of this problem? Surely the Minister realises that his scheme stands or falls by the economical and efficient way in which it is enabled to spend the nation's money?
It is, as hon. Members know, a very remarkable thing today that the whole of the Health Scheme is administered by 10,000 to 11,000 voluntary persons who are not paid anything at all; and that is a very remarkable tribute to the voluntary principle. We cannot call to account officials employed in an official capacity unless they are paid a salary.
Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that without information of this kind, his denials of extravagance in the administration of this service are worthless?
And without information of this kind accusations of extravagance are nonsense.