Clause 2 — Secondary Class 1 contributions
Orders of the Day — National Insurance Contributions Bill
Mr John Bercow (Buckingham, Conservative)
That is a disappointing intervention. I have listened many times during the past 12 months since the hon. Gentleman was elected, and I have been impressed by what I have heard. He is capable of so much better than what he has just delivered, so I am sorry that he delivered it. I say that in relation to the arguments that we shall enunciate for assistance for employers who provide health care insurance for their staff, and I do so conscious of some of the facts in Scotland.
I should have thought that the hon. Gentleman, of all people, would be well informed about the position in Scotland. If he is as well informed as I thought that he was and as I know that he should be, he will be aware of the extraordinary combination of facts on health care provision in Scotland. On the one hand, since his party took office in 1997, there has been a 28 per cent. real-terms increase in expenditure on health but on the other, concurrent with that increase in expenditure, there has been an average increase of 25 per cent. in the waiting time for treatment.
That emphasises the patently true fact that, in health care, it is not simply a matter of increasing spending. Sadly, Mr. Bryant is not in his place today, as he had some difficulty grasping that point when I explained it to him. Manifestly, if expenditure is increased without an accompanying reform, we will not achieve the improvement in performance that we all want. We know in relation to many aspects of health delivery in Scotland that there is more money, but there is not a better performance.
I have already been in danger of straying from the narrow course of the amendment, which I want to commend to the Committee. That is ultimately my responsibility, but because of my natural generosity of spirit, I wanted to give way to Labour Members to allow them to release their frustrations.