asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she will make an official visit to the hospitals in the city of Chester.
I have no plans for a visit to Chester at this time.
Is the Minister of State aware that we are very upset that he has no plans to come to Chester? That aside, will he tell us whether the proposed new district general hospital has been delayed or cancelled and, if the latter, whether he is prepared to make available, so as to bring up to date the existing hospitals, money which is not being spent because of the proposal for the new hospital?
In the current financial year works with a completed cost of over £¼ million have started or are planned to start for Chester hospitals. The works include a geriatric day hospital, an intensive therapy unit, and anaesthetic unit and the upgrading of a pharmacy. On the main question, the regional health authority reluctantly decided that design work on phase 2 of the West Cheshire hospital project should be suspended.
Is the Minister of State aware that if he were to go a little further east and come to Macclesfield he would find the people in that area appalled at the attitude of his Department and of the Merseyside Regional Health Authority in their total ignorance of the need for a new district general hospital in Macclesfield? This has been planned for some 10 or 15 years. I gather from information that has come to me—I hope that the Minister is aware of this—that the project has been shelved indefinitely. Will he comment?
The project in Macclesfield and that in West Cheshire were both deeply affected by the capital expenditure cuts notified to the region in November 1973. No doubt both hon. Gentlemen voted against the cuts of 20 per cent. in capital expenditure imposed by the Tory Government at that time.