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Singleton Hospital, Swansea

Volume 87: debated on Monday 18 November 1985

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4.44 pm

Standing Order No. 10 requires that a matter be brought to the House at the earliest possible moment. I therefore apologise to you, Mr. Speaker, and to colleagues throughout the House, for raising this subject on so important a day, but I must ask the leave of the House to move the Adjournment under Standing Order No. 10 for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that needs urgent consideration.

The question is self-evidently specific, because it deals with Friday's decision to close, next weekend, the casualty unit at Singleton hospital in Swansea. I rise on this matter today because, as you may recollect, Mr. Speaker—you were in the Chair—the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales, the hon. Member for Conwy (Mr. Roberts), in answer to my Adjournment debate last Thursday night, said he rejected the proposition from the West Glamorgan health authority that this unit should close. Like myself, he condemned the health authority for its inadequate consultation and for its eventual decision that there should be no recognition of the proposal on which it had been consulting over a period of 10 years.

The urgency arises because, despite the fact that as recently as Thursday evening the Parliamentary Under-Secretary gave the Government's view, the following morning, 12 hours later, the West Glamorgan health authority announced that it intended to go ahead with the closure next weekend, on 24 November. More astonishingly, in view of what the Parliamentary Under-Secretary said in the House, it also claimed that the statement it issued had been cleared and approved by the Welsh Office. I have since established with the Welsh Office that that is accurate. It is important because it is intended to keep this essential facility for Swansea closed for possibly up to six months during the consultative period on a possible replacement.

I submit that this is a specific and urgent problem in that, having accepted that west Swansea and Gower need a casualty service, the Secretary of State is now endorsing a move to close the existing service this weekend and to allow up to six months before providing a replacement. I submit that this proposal is at the very least contradictory and at worst idiotic and irresponsible.

The right hon. Member asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely,

"the closure of Singleton hospital".
I have listened carefully to what the right hon. Member has said, but I regret that I do not consider the matter that he has raised to be appropriate for discussion under Standing Order No. 10, and I cannot therefore submit his application to the House.