Previous SectionIndexHome Page

Waiting Lists

14. Mr. Win Griffiths (Bridgend): What assessment he has made of the impact of treating patients from Wales on English waiting lists. [116537]

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Mr. John Hutton): The provision of NHS services to Welsh patients by English NHS trusts is a matter for local NHS commissioners. The maximum waiting time for English patients will be six months for in-patient treatment and three months for an out-patient appointment by 2005. The setting of targets for Welsh patients is, of course, a matter for the National Assembly for Wales.

Mr. Griffiths : May I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply? However, I was hoping that he might have been able to tell me whether there was any capacity on the English side of the border for even more Welsh patients to be treated, given that the incidence of illness in Wales is much higher than it is in England.

Mr. Hutton: I agree with my hon. Friend. It is obviously important that the NHS provides an integrated service across the border between Wales and England. If there is spare capacity in NHS hospitals in England, it is right and proper that NHS patients who live in Wales should have access to it when that can be agreed. In fact, that is precisely what is happening. The number of Welsh patients treated in English trusts is increasing substantially and is up from 26,000 in 2000–01 to 37,000 last year.

3 Jun 2003 : Column 21

Points of Order

3.31 pm

Mr. Michael Ancram (Devizes): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I am sure that you will have noticed in the recess that a number of well publicised and highly damaging allegations have been made relating to weapons of mass destruction and the intelligence information available about them. The serious suggestion is that the House has been deliberately misled. These accusations, which could not be raised in the House until today because of the recess, strike at the heart of the integrity of both the Government and our intelligence services. So damaging are they that presumably the Government would wish to take the earliest opportunity to come to the House to deal with them. I understand that the Prime Minister returned to this country at 11 o'clock this morning. Have you, Mr. Speaker, received any request from him to come to the House urgently today, as he should, to clear the air on these matters?

Mr. Speaker: I understand from the Prime Minister that he will make a statement tomorrow in which the right hon. Gentleman can question him on these matters. Prime Minister's Question Time will also take place tomorrow, so the Prime Minister will come to the House tomorrow.

Mr. Eric Forth (Bromley and Chislehurst): Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Can you confirm, as you have said to the House before, that were the Prime Minister to ask to make a statement at, say, 7 o'clock this evening, you would automatically grant it, following precedent? Certainly the official Opposition would be more than happy to accommodate the Prime Minister were he to make that request. However, you said that he would make a statement tomorrow, so can you clarify whether it will cover the very serious questions raised by my right hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Mr. Ancram), or would the Prime Minister's statement not more likely be about the G8 summit in which case it is possible that questions about Iraq and related matters might just be out of order?

Mr. Speaker: I think that Opposition Front Bench Members are ingenious enough to be able to ask questions about Iraq, even on a statement about the G8 summit, and not be found out of order by myself.

Mr. Andrew Robathan (Blaby): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker: Order. Let me answer the point raised by the shadow Leader of the House. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, the business on which we are about to embark is protected business, so I would not allow it to be interrupted. Therefore, we are talking about tomorrow.

Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North): Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Can you therefore confirm that, in the event of the Prime Minister making a statement tomorrow on the Evian summit, you will allow questions on any aspect of the Iraq conflict to follow, so that there can be full scrutiny of the Prime Minister's position on this matter?

3 Jun 2003 : Column 22

Mr. Speaker: The hon. Gentleman can push his luck tomorrow.

Mr. Patrick McLoughlin (West Derbyshire): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. You have often told us that statements should be made first to the House of Commons, not outside the House of the Commons. I do not suppose that you have had time to see that the BBC News website says, "No 10 rejects Iraq weapons inquiry". It continues:

I do not know who this "Downing Street" is, but the person who answers for Downing Street in this House is the Prime Minister. Should we not hear from the Prime Minister rather than from spokesmen for Downing Street—the Alastair Campbells? We should hear from the Prime Minister in the House of Commons first rather than reading about things on web pages.

Mr. Speaker: The hon. Gentleman is correct: there are lots of people in Downing Street, but we are getting the Prime Minister from Downing Street tomorrow.

Mr. Edward Garnier (Harborough): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Tomorrow is a Liberal Democrat Opposition day and although no one would be more delighted than I for them to be put to the end of the agenda, is it not important that Opposition days should be protected and not interrupted or intervened on by Government statements? Surely if Government statements can be made during Government business time, that is when they should be made. Today is a classic example of that.

Mr. Menzies Campbell (North-East Fife): Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I am grateful to the hon. and learned Member for Harborough (Mr. Garnier) for his anxiety about our interests, but it might serve the advantage of the House for me to say that the Liberal Democrats hope to give the House the opportunity to debate issues relating to Iraq during the Opposition day tomorrow.

Mr. Robathan: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. On 26 February, at column 272 of Hansard, I specifically asked the Foreign Secretary whether regime change was the objective of the Government's policy, which he denied. Could he perhaps be asked to come instead and answer that charge now, if the Prime Minister is too busy?

Mr. Speaker: The answer to that is no.

Mr. Henry Bellingham (North-West Norfolk): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. During the mini-recess, the Health and Safety Executive produced its important and, indeed, damning report on the Potters Bar train crash. The train was on its way to my constituency and that of my right hon. Friend the Member for South-West Norfolk (Mrs. Shephard). The report needs to be discussed. I shall not be able to raise it during tomorrow's statement on the G8, so why has the Secretary of State for Transport not been asked to make a statement to the House today on that vital report?

Mr. Speaker: I can understand the hon. Gentleman's anxiety. He is entitled to pursue that matter with the Secretary of State for Transport, and I expect that he will do that.

3 Jun 2003 : Column 23

3 Jun 2003 : Column 23

Fire Services Bill (Programme) (No. 2)

3.37 pm

The Minister for Local Government and the Regions (Mr. Nick Raynsford): I beg to move,

The measure will amend the order of 8 May so that the House will have ample time to consider the provisions of this short Bill. The previous order did not specify the duration of proceedings in Committee, on consideration—if any—and on Third Reading, except to allow that proceedings in Committee and on consideration would be brought to an end one hour before the moment of interruption.

The Government are conscious that many hon. Members of all parties have an interest in the Bill. We therefore propose that the order of 8 May be varied so that the House may be guaranteed sufficient time to consider the Bill. The proposed variation therefore provides that proceedings in Committee and any proceedings on consideration be brought to an end five and a half hours after the commencement of proceedings on the motion for this order. At least one hour further will be allowed for proceedings on Third Reading.

Next Section

IndexHome Page