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Mr. Paul Tyler (North Cornwall): Greater Cornwall.

Mr. Hughes: The other side of the Tamar cannot be called Greater Cornwall. The Bodmin Moor Commons Bill and the Tamar Bridge Bill are supported by my hon. Friends and they wish them good speed. The first Bill would secure the better management of stock on Bodmin moor and the second would allow improvement of the Tamar bridge, which is the gateway to Cornwall. That improvement is much desired--although in summer the people of Cornwall may wish that fewer people could cross the bridge--and needs to be facilitated. I agree with the hon. Member for Test that the Southampton International Boat Show Bill is the most modest of Bills. I hope that it passes through the House quickly. In fact, it shows the nonsense of the system when a Bill has to be brought to this place in order

It may be a private sector enterprise, but it strikes me that using private legislation to extend the Southampton boat show for one day is like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

There is a northern Bill to match the southern Bill. The Lever Park Bill

I admit to the House that I know zero about that proposal. No doubt, colleagues in both those parts of the north-west know about the proposal and have an interest in it and in North West Water and North West Water Heritage trust.

The two London Bills to which the right hon. Member for Cities of London and Westminster referred are academic Bills. They form a natural pair because they are part of the general proposals to consolidate academic and teaching medicine in quadrants around London. The Imperial College Bill is the latest in a series of actions that has brought together a considerable number of medical and dental teaching schools in London. The Bill will bring together the Charing Cross and Westminster medical school--where there were originally two hospitals and two medical schools, which I remember on my Universities Central Council on Admissions form--and Imperial college. In general terms, all the advice that I have received suggests that that is a good idea; it brings

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cross-faculty and cross-specialist improvement. It means that medics are not simply with other medics or dentists with other dentists. It is also meant, I have been told by those who are slightly less pro-medic and pro-dentist, to civilise them so that they have to spend more time with other people.

Mr. Maclean: They need to become vets in that case.

Mr. Hughes: I do not know about that.

I am not sure whether I regard all the faculties at the Imperial college of science, technology and medicine as the most earthly and wide ranging in their interests. We always used to think that the least exciting people at college were the engineers and there are plenty of those at Imperial college. However, the idea is a good one and, clearly, if all parties--academics, boards of governors, undergraduates and postgraduates--want it to go ahead, it is right that it should. I heard what the right hon. Member for Cities of London and Westminster said--that there is a deadline and the merger is wanted by 1 August. That may be a reason for knowing timetables in advance and for fixing things--it would prevent uncertainty.

The last Bill that I have blocked is one that, at the end of the last Parliament, was awaiting its Third Reading: the King's College London Bill, which is jointly promoted. It is promoted by King's college London--a highly esteemed and valuable institution that is an important part of the university of London. King's college is based north of the river in the Cities of London and Westminster constituency and has outposts all over the country, which will also be consolidated. It is also promoted by the united medical and dental school of Guy's and St. Thomas's. There was a merger between two great teaching hospitals over the river and their medical and dental schools.

The Bill will bring together King's college, King's college medical and dental school, which is currently at Denmark Hill, and the united medical and dental school, which is currently principally on the Guy's hospital site in my constituency. It is a great medical and dental school which, I think, has the highest number of research gradings of any academic institution in the country. It is clearly pre-eminent and is of worldwide renown.

I have blocked that Bill: I wanted to use this opportunity to ensure that we did not simply let it go through on the nod. This is the first opportunity that I have had to send out the important message to the new Government that, although the merger does not necessarily threaten the united medical and dental school, there are still some residual concerns involving the present student body--concerns that I trust are now being addressed.

We must ensure that those who applied to and entered a specific institution, graduate from it. That may be a traditional and nostalgic approach, but I believe that if someone applies to Guy's hospital medical school, he or she will want to graduate from it. Guy's medical school is a different institution from a big amalgam of different schools. I hope that we can establish that principle. I have been encouraged by my conversations with the school secretary and with the principals of the two institutions. I hope that we can ensure that those who entered as students of one institution, graduate with that same institution on their degree certificates.

The proposal to merge is a good one, but it is still threatened by some of the implications of the previous Government's plans to move some of the activities from

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the Guy's hospital site to the St. Thomas's hospital site. I know that at least one person in the House will not agree with that--my neighbour, the hon. Member for Vauxhall (Kate Hoey), who represents St. Thomas's.

The most intensely fought local issue during the general election campaign in my part of Southwark, and one about which then shadow Ministers made promises, was the survival of Guy's hospital. For it to survive as a teaching and research hospital, it needs in-patients as well as out-patients. For it to survive as a credible entity, it needs a minimum number of in-patients. The best advice that I have received suggests that there must be a minimum of 400 in-patient beds. We therefore await with great interest the Government announcement--already considerably delayed--about the moratorium on hospital closures in London. I have made no secret of the fact that I have sought to persuade Ministers that the moratorium should apply not just to hospital closures, but to any rundown of services from the date of the election.

I am asking not for the clock to be stopped, but that we take account of the fact that the first review was based on information that was clearly inaccurate and factually out of date when Tomlinson made his report. We must also take account of rising demand in accident and emergency provision and rises in the number of patients. Above all, we must not agree to something without an assurance that, by the time the Bill reaches the statute book, there will be a viable academic teaching and research institution on the Guy's hospital site.

I have a letter from the principal of King's college and the principal of the united medical and dental school that makes it clear that the viability of the institution in its new format would be threatened if there were an insufficient number of beds. We are about to have the best out-patient facilities in the world in the new Thomas Guy house into which the first patients went earlier this month. It was budgeted to cost £50 million and actually cost £150 million. One can have wonderful out-patient facilities, but I do not think that any hon. Members would say that the real definition of a hospital was something with only out-patient facilities. Once in-patient facilities and casualty units are removed from a hospital, there is only a remote chance of anyone thinking that it is a real and fully functioning institution.

When, last year, I talked to people about the health service and academic medicine in some of the greatest American hospitals, they expressed concern that we should do nothing to undermine some of the best academic institutions in this country. I am privileged to be the Member of Parliament who represents one of them, but there are great hospitals all over the country--in Nottingham, Birmingham and elsewhere. I do not pretend that the one that I represent is the greatest hospital, but I know that it would be wrong for Parliament to legislate to undermine excellence or to take away the things that we do well--such as the Southampton boat show.

If the Government are to honour their implied commitment to the people at the general election, before the Bill returns they must make an announcement about the moratorium on the health service changes in London; they must include the changes at Guy's hospital and at St. Thomas's hospital in that review; they must look again at the issue; and at the end of the debate on those subjects, we must have a guarantee that there will be, for the foreseeable future at least, 400 beds on the Guy's hospital site in addition to all the other facilities.

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The case is clear. I hope that the House, and especially the Government, will take it to heart. I hope that we shall proceed to deal with the Bills in the order of whatever is the most urgent in the next few weeks. I hope that, by next year, we shall have a more modern system for private Bills, which will allow the House and the world outside to know what we are doing and will allow all the people who want to participate to do so.

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