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Tadworth Hospital

Volume 32: debated on Thursday 18 November 1982

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4.33 pm

I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 9, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely,

"the proposed closure of the Tadworth hospital."

The matter is specific. This is a 60-bed hospital catering for mentally and physically severely handicapped children, and giving respite to the parents of such children when they wish to go on holiday or to be temporarily relieved of responsibility for their children.

The matter is important not merely because of the facilities provided at Tadworth, but because of the implications that the decision has for the Government's overall approach to the Health Service and for the rest of the regional health authority that covers Tadworth.

The Prime Minister's statement today adds further urgency to our need to consider this matter. She said that Ministers were considering the matter, and I think used the word "sympathetic". There are two grave consequences in reconsidering this decision if it is done in a particular fashion. One is that the Government might choose, privately, without the knowledge of the House or without any discussion, to take away with one hand what they are giving with the other. The concern was expressed last night that the decision might be taken in such a way as gravely to damage the facilities at Great Ormond Street and at the Queen Elizabeth hospital.

There is also clear evidence that there are implications for the role of charities. It may be that the Government, without coming to the House to discuss the matter, are starting to take the view that this type of facility should be provided by charity. That is an important matter, contingent on this decision, that ought to have the consideration of the House.

The Secretary of State should have come to the House today and made a statement following the decision of the governors of the hospital last night. Tomorrow would be a good time to discuss these matters. There is no need for them to be decided in private and behind closed doors. There is no need for horse trading on which facilities are to close, without the involvement of the House or of hon. Members who are generally or particularly involved. The issue should be discussed here. Hon. Members have had no opportunity to do that so far. I seek leave to move the Adjournment of the House to discuss the matter at a more convenient time tomorrow, so that we may do so before the Government decision is taken.

The hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, East (Mr. Thomas) gave me notice before 12 o'clock midday that he would seek leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 9, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he thinks should have urgent consideration, namely,

"the proposed closure of the Tadworth hospital."

In the knowledge that the hon. Gentleman was to make his application, I listened with particular care to the exchanges this afternoon between the Leader of the Opposition and the Prime Minister. The hon. Gentleman will know, as the House knows, that I am instructed to take into account the several factors set out in Standing Order No. 9 but to give no reason for my decision.

I listened carefully to the hon. Gentleman, as did the House, but I have to rule that his submission does not fall withing the provisions of the Standing Order and, therefore, I cannot submit his application to the House.