asked the Secretary of State for Wales what progress he has made with joint financing of personal social services projects for the development of mental health services.
Earlier this month my right hon. Friend announced the largest ever increase in the Government's contribution towards joint finance in Wales—more than £1 million for schemes beginning in 1982–83. This brings the total central contributions to jointly financed schemes to almost £4.5 million.
I am delighted to hear of that progress. Is there any sign that local authorities are having difficulty in matching the Government's contribution?
The bids for joint finance were six times in excess of the earmarked funds. That does not suggest, to me at any rate, that local authorities are unwilling to bring forward schemes.
Is the Under-Secretary of State aware of the difficulty of local authorities in meeting their part of the responsibility from those schemes? In his county of Gwynedd the social services committee is having difficulty. Will the Under-Secretary also say what progress has been made on the other aspect of mental health services in Wales—the grants for MENCAP and the development of MENCAP services in Wales?
In reply to the second part of the question, I should make it clear that the figures do not include the £1·13 million for each of the five years beginning with the year 1983–84 which is concerned with the mental handicap initiative.As to the difficulties of local authorities, although one understands them, nevertheless, as I said, there is clearly a considerable desire on the part of local authorities to participate in joint finance.
Does the Under-Secretary appreciate that there is considerable anxiety about the provision of mental health services in Gwent? We now find that Mr. Ron Evans, who has taken a keen interest in this matter, is to be replaced by an outsider as chairman of the Gwent area health authority. Does the Under-Secretary appreciate that political nepotism in these public appointments is deplored throughout Wales?
That matter does not arise under this question. However, with regard to the appointment of the new chairman of the Gwent area health authority and the retirement of Mr. Ron Evans, I should point out that Mr. Evans was appointed by the previous Conservative Government.