Will my right hon. Friend confirm that he has excellent and detailed plans to increase spending on public services by £38 billion in the next three years? What would be the effect of substituting an uncertain £20 billion along with socialist cuts and taxes on earnings?
If a £20 billion increase were substituted for our present plans, it would certainly mean a substantial reduction in services across the board, no doubt including the health service as well. On the other hand, if there is to be £20 billion in addition to the spending plans that we have proposed, it would undoubtedly lead to large and significant tax increases across the board.
Does the Prime Minister think that any citizens' charter should include giving people the right to vote on whether they want their local hospitals to opt out?
Even the Prime Minister must know that the "medical people", as he refers to them, whenever they have voted, have voted by majorities in excess of 80 per cent. against opt-out. [Interruption.] I will provide a list later.
Does the Prime Minister recall saying, just last Friday, that he trusts the people? Why does he not trust the people enough to allow them to vote democratically on whether they want their local hospitals to opt out? What is he afraid of? Why is he always running away from the ballot box?
Will the Prime Minister now answer my question? Will he give people the right to vote on whether hospitals in their localities should opt out?
What a remarkable question from the leader of a party whose education spokesman would take away the right of parents to decide what nature of schools their children could go to.
To people in unskilled work, wages or a salary of £20,000 a year may seem very good pay indeed, but does my right hon. Friend feel that a level of pay of £20,000 a year makes a person rich—rich enough to be taxed at the horrendous levels now being spoken of by the Labour party?
Only a genuine Leveller would think that £20,000 a year was rich these days. Certainly, no doctors, police constables, police sergeants, fire sergeants and others would think that. The reality is that average earnings and take-home pay have risen substantially in recent years. Only the Labour party could produce taxation policies to penalise people on modest incomes. Were it to implement all its plans it would be penalising not only people on modest and average incomes but every taxpayer.
As the Prime Minister has demonstrated his intention to hold the 1992 European summit in Edinburgh, would he also accept that Scotland's international diplomatic role could best be served not by inviting Europe to our capital city for a few days every other year but by enabling Scotland to play her full international role as a member of the European Community in her own right 365 days a year, especially against a background in which the people of Scotland have shown that independence is their preferred constitutional choice?
Scotland has played a very honourable role in international affairs as part of the United Kingdom for a long time and it will continue to do so in that fashion. I am glad that the hon. Lady welcomes the fact that the European Council will be meeting in Edinburgh. It think that the people of all Scotland, but especially Edinburgh, will welcome that too.
Will my right hon. Friend confirm that the Government intend to raise £5 billion per year from the proceeds of privatisation in the next Parliament? Will he also confirm that if that revenue were not forthcoming, it would be necessary either to reduce public services dramatically or to raise taxes and to increase public borrowing to an unacceptable level?
My hon. Friend is entirely right. It would seem from what the Leader of the Opposition has said that the Labour party is planning either dramatically to increase taxation or dramatically to cut spending on public services. Privatisation has not only raised significant resources to liquidate parts of the national debt but has dramatically improved the performance of the companies concerned. We shall continue with policies of privatisation. I think that that will be much more welcome to people than increasing borrowing on the scale that a Labour Government would envisage and increasing taxation, which is what Labour has always delivered.
To ensure that a citizens' charter for the health service has real meaning for the people in my constituency, will the Prime Minister confirm that as 100,000 people have signed a petition to protest at the proposed closure of Withington hospital and its maternity unit, and as 3,000 people joined hands around the two-mile perimeter to protest about the plan, such overwhelming support will mean that citizens have the right to retain their local hospital and that the Government have a right and duty to honour their views?
As the hon. Gentleman knows, matters of that sort are dealt with in the first instance by the health authority, and I think it is better that they should be. What I can tell the hon. Gentleman about the citizens' charter—an idea that I first began to consider and to speak publicly about in 1987—is that it will provide far greater redress for the citizen than ever before.