asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he can give the total number of persons engaged on hospital administration in Scotland on 1st July, 1948; and the total number at present engaged.
Information as to the number at 1st July, 1948, would have to be obtained specially and I do not feel justified in asking hospital authorities to compile it. The present number of officers engaged in administration, including clerical and typing staff, is about 2,200, which comprises the staffs of the five regional boards, the 84 boards of management and the 425 hospitals in the service.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that last week he was able to give precise details to my hon. Friend the Member for South Aberdeen (Lady Tweedsmuir) in respect of the Royal Infirmary, Aberdeen? Why could he not possibly give us the figures for all hospitals in Scotland? In view of the concern expressed in Scotland as to the possibility of the present system being somewhat over laboured and too expensive, surely he agrees that the lack of answer which he has given may well further increase these suspicions?
I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman has cast these aspersions upon the ladies and gentlemen who are giving their services to running these hospitals. I have every confidence in the way they are running these hospitals. They were running them in many cases before we took over, and they are equally conscientious today. The hon. Lady the Member for South Aberdeen (Lady Tweedsmuir) asked me a specific Question, but to discover the details for which the hon. Gentleman asks would involve a great deal of effort on the part of these hospitals. I can give the hon. Gentleman a percentage administration figure, which is about 3½ per cent. of the total expenditure. That is a very good percentage for effective and efficient management.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is no question whatever of casting any slur on the people who are doing this work? Many of the people running these hospitals are worried about the increases for administrative staffs.
Can the Secretary of State tell us whether it is a fact that these figures will be reduced in view of the cut in the National Health Service?
Hospitals will be effectively managed, and if any economies can be effected I am sure that all the boards will take whatever steps they can. We shall give them what guidance we can in this direction.