Schedule 13 — Repeals and Revocations
Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Bill
Dr John Reid (Secretary of State, Department of Health; Hamilton North and Bellshill, Labour)
The hon. Gentleman suggests that I talk about the Bill and not about the values and principles behind it. Let me explain this to him. When we bring a Bill to the House, we do not pluck it out of the air; we do not kneel down and adore it because it has been there for 30 years. It is based on a set of principles and a set of values. The hon. Gentleman may consider the words "values" and "principles" entirely alien to his political philosophy, but they are quite important to us. If I share them with the House and he agrees with the principle, no doubt he will find himself in the same Lobby as us.
The hon. Gentleman will recognise the first principle: that the dividing line between those who support the national health service and those who oppose it lies in the belief that health care should be provided equally to those who need it, free at the point of need. That principle has been approved by the British people for 60 years, and has been supported by them ever since. I understand that changes such as the introduction of foundation trusts are often controversial, and that we must continue the discussions to carry people with us on such radical proposals. I would point out, however, that the new Commission for Healthcare Audit and Inspection will be able to audit and inspect all hospitals—not just foundation trusts and not only other hospitals, but all hospitals in the public and the private sectors. NHS foundation trusts will operate totally within that principle.