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Hospitals (Sutton And Cheam)

Volume 886: debated on Monday 17 February 1975

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I am sorry to take up the time of the House, but I should be grateful for your guidance and intervention on a matter which has been causing me some concern since 5th November 1974, when I raised under the Adjournment debate procedure the future of the Belmont and Henderson Hospital site, which is of acute concern in my constituency.

During the course of the reply which the Minister gave, he said, as reported at column 1036 of Hansard:
"Otherwise offer of the property must, in accordance with the rules for disposal of Government land, go first to other Government Departments, then to the London Borough of Sutton and to the Greater London Council."—[Official Report, 5th November, 1974; Vol. 880, c. 1036–37.]
I believe that what was stated during that debate was that the land would be first offered to other Government Departments, then to the London Borough of Sutton, and then to the Greater London Council. I believe that there have been certain omissions and errors because the statement was not accurately recorded and reported by Hansard.

That is the problem that I wish to raise, Mr. Speaker. You will understand that it is of critical importance to me in that the omission of the word "then" in fact means that the London Borough of Sutton would not enjoy first priority and first refusal of the land.

My hon. Friend the Member for Pudsey (Mr. Shaw) was with me on that occasion. As we left the Chamber, he said, "Well, you have received the assurance you were seeking." There were also four or five constituents of mine in the Public Gallery on that occasion, from the constituency, who were indeed pleased to receive that assurance.

Finally, I had a letter some weeks after this from a Liberal Greater London councillor, saying:
"I think you would like to know that some weeks ago I wrote to the Minister asking him for clarification of the sentence in Hansard which refers to the order in which land surplus to Government Departments' requirements is offered to other authorities. I attended your Adjournment debate and did not think the words reflected what the Minister had said at this point. I would be interested to have your comments".
That is from a councillor who is not of the same political opinion as myself. I should be grateful for your assistance, Mr. Speaker.

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Certainly I should be saying an untruth to the House were I to suggest that I could remember exactly what I said in an Adjournment debate on 5th November. But I have gone through the file which the Department keeps on the matter, and I have a copy in front of me of the exact speech notes I used on that occasion. All that I can confirm is that the words in Hansard are the exact words printed in the speech notes I used on that occasion, and there was certainly no intention on my part to mislead the House or the hon. Gentleman. In fact, I thought that what I had clearly indicated was that the offer of land would go to the London Borough of Sutton and to the Greater London Council jointly, because in fact, if one reads on to column 1037, one finds that I referred specifically to both of them having urgent housing needs. I can find no evidence to suggest that I in any way misled the House or attempted to do anything about the report in Hansard.

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I believe it has been established that there has been an omission from the Minister's reply. I believe that this statement would establish an important principle, and consequently I must refer to the half-dozen constituents and the councillor not of my political opinion who were present and who felt that the Minister distinctly said then—

Order. The hon. Member has dealt with that. I have heard what he has said, and what the Minister has said, and I shall consider the matter.