Capital allocations to hospital trusts are determined by local need and subject to local and national affordability.
Wellingborough is a fast-expanding constituency, with thousands of new homes being built. It has no hospital, and now this discredited Government are closing the hospital out-patient facility. In the neighbouring, highly marginal Labour constituency of Corby, a new hospital and a new out-patient facility are being built. Are this Labour Government buying votes?
I thought the hon. Gentleman’s party was fully in favour of foundation trusts. Kettering general hospital foundation trust wants to build a new unit at Irthlingborough, which is 2.7 miles from the current Rushden clinic that he is talking about. Through its overview and scrutiny committee, Conservative-controlled Northamptonshire county council decided that the move did not need consultation, because it was not a substantial change.
Given the terrific importance of abolishing car parking charges, about which the Secretary of State made such important announcements a couple of years ago, will my right hon. and learned Friend look into the possibility of appropriating those car parks into the capital structure and capital allowances of hospitals, thereby not imposing that revenue drain on them?
I shall of course look into the point that my hon. Friend makes, but I have to say this. We want to ensure, as far as finances allow, that patients and those who visit them can get a permit for free car parking in due course. I will look into the point he makes, but our policy is to move towards patients getting that free car parking in due course.