Service Widows (Provision of Pensions)

Part of Service Widows (Provision of Pensions) – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 28th March 1979.

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Photo of Mr Timothy Raison Mr Timothy Raison , Aylesbury 12:00 am, 28th March 1979

I know that this hurts Socialists to the core because they have had a genuine belief in the National Health Service. Today that Service is suffering from grave demoralisation, which has come about under a Labour Government. To illustrate that one only has to look at the waiting lists since the Labour Government took office. It is there that the crisis in the Health Service can be seen most vividly. Between 1974 and 1978 the waiting lists grew to almost 100,000, and since then they have become even worse.

What is even sadder is that the Government are doing nothing to remedy the situation. They show no signs of trying to achieve an agreement whereby workers in essential services renounce the right to take industrial action in exchange for guaranteed pay increases. Also the Government show no sign of a determination to establish a crash programme to catch up on the waiting lists. This could be done by a Government of resolution. This Government have no resolution about anything at all, except hanging on to power.

Just as serious as the failure in the economy and the social services is the Government's failure to use Parliament properly. We have seen this in many different ways. We have seen the repeated failure of the Government to put vital matters before the House for a vote. Time and time again they have ducked asking the House to vote on matters such as their incomes policy White Paper and their public expenditure plans. They have not even put forward the famous concordat for a vote of the House.

There is no doubt that this has damaged the reputation of the House. It has also gravely damaged the reputation of the Leader of the House. I shall not quote to him what I have quoted before, the passages from his "Aneurin Bevan", in which Bevan denounces deals that were done with the TUC behind Parliament's back and Members have been told later that they must accept the fait accompli. The Leader of the House knows how his hero denounced this in famous speeches in the 1940s. Yet he, above all people, has carried out deals with the unions and has refused to allow Parliament to have a say in the deals that have been cooked up.