Health Scheme

Oral Answers to Questions — Social Services – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 28th June 1983.

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Photo of Mr Robert McCrindle Mr Robert McCrindle , Brentwood and Ongar 12:00 am, 28th June 1983

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what examination he has made of the possibility of an insurance-based health scheme; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Mr Norman Fowler Mr Norman Fowler Secretary of State for Health and Social Security

In 1981–82 my Department carried out a survey of the various approaches to financing health care in other, comparable, countries to see whether there were any ideas worth considering further for adoption here. However, as I announced to the House on 30 July, the Government decided to continue with tile present system of financing the NHS largely from taxation. That remains our policy. We shall continue to examine ways of improving the efficiency of the NHS to provide better services for patients and to promote a developing partnership with the voluntary and private sectors.

Photo of Mr Robert McCrindle Mr Robert McCrindle , Brentwood and Ongar

May we then assume that a strong Health Service financed principally from taxation remains the Government's policy and that we can discount suggestions of any idea of moving towards a compulsory insurance scheme with subsidies payable on behalf of the less well off, which in the opinion of many of us would be a retrograde step?

Photo of Mr Norman Fowler Mr Norman Fowler Secretary of State for Health and Social Security

I agree with my hon. Friend We are committed not only to the National Health Service but to the present way in which it is financed.

Photo of Mr Doug Hoyle Mr Doug Hoyle , Warrington North

When will the Secretary of State publish the survey? As long as he keeps it secret, is there not a lingering doubt that it might be brought out of the cupboard at the appropriate time?

Photo of Mr Norman Fowler Mr Norman Fowler Secretary of State for Health and Social Security

There is a lingering doubt only in the hon. Gentleman's mind. I doubt whether any publication will ever take away the lingering doubts that the hon. Gentleman seems to harbour.

Photo of Mr William Clark Mr William Clark , Croydon South

I agree that the National Health Service should continue to be financed out of public funds, but does my right hon. Friend agree that people who spend their own money on private medical insurance help the National Health Service? Will my right hon. Friend consider giving fiscal advantages or incentives to those who want to insure privately for health care?

Photo of Mr Norman Fowler Mr Norman Fowler Secretary of State for Health and Social Security

As my hon. Friend fully realises, that is an issue for my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. On my hon. Friend's first point, the Conservative party believes that the individual has the right to have private health insurance. We support that right and will continue to do so.

Photo of Gwyneth Dunwoody Gwyneth Dunwoody , Crewe and Nantwich

Is the Secretary of State saying that there is no question of means-testing anyone who uses National Health Service facilities and that he will not move towards a system of charging for individual services within the National Health Service, because that would undermine its entire purpose?

Photo of Mr Norman Fowler Mr Norman Fowler Secretary of State for Health and Social Security

If by that the hon. Lady means the introduction of hospital charges, hotel charges and general practitioner consultation charges, both the Prime Minister and I have made it absolutely clear that we do not intend to introduce such charges.