I was interested in what the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland was telling the House about the increased expenditure having in real terms outstripped rising prices. For a long time I have suspected that the Government, and the various Ministers of Health who have been in office since 1951, have been trying desperately to conceal the reality of the situation, which, in my view, is that the effect of their policies has been to produce a real reduction in the Service. I believe that the Bill is simply a means of shifting, within the existing financial ceiling, a proportion of the burden from the taxpayer to the individual in terms of a poll tax. That is something which hon. Members on this side of the House have objected to at all stages.
The Bill does nothing at all to meet the situation in which the services are being reduced. In considering the various arguments to which we have listened during earlier discussions, I read a speech by the hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph) in support of the Bill. He said:
I do not think that there is a single major resource or amenity connected with it"—
that is, with the National Health Service—
which is not more plentifully supplied by my right hon. Friend and his colleagues now than at any time since the war.
The hon. Gentleman went on:
There are now more real resources for the Health Service—for example, more nurses, more beds, more doctors, more health visitors, more district nurses and more midwives."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th May, 1957; Vol. 569, c. 1048.]
That is the argument we have heard throughout the discussions on the Bill.