First Day

Part of Debate on the Address – in the House of Commons at 3:01 pm on 6th May 1992.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Neil Kinnock Mr Neil Kinnock Leader of Her Majesty's Official Opposition, Leader of the Labour Party, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee 3:01 pm, 6th May 1992

It is as up to date as the waiting lists. It is as up to date as those doctors who are getting the inside track. It is as up to date as the people who have to wait in pain for the simple reason that they cannot afford to pay for operations—very up to date.

In all those actions, the Government claim that they are somehow "devolving" vital decisions to individuals and to families. In reality, the Government are doing the opposite. In reality, the Government are abdicating their responsibility to individuals and to families. That is the only honest way to describe policies which make no provision for child care or for nursery education, policies which reintroduce the 11-plus and secondary modern schools—something that they always forgo to mention —and policies which mock choice when schools choose pupils and parents instead of pupils and parents choosing schools.

"Abdication" is the only honest word to describe health policies which have no real regard for the health and welfare care of the infirm elderly in our country, policies which perpetually increase prescription and other charges, and policies which make treatment dependent on whether the health authority contract with the hospital stretches far enough to deal with the needs of individual patients.

Those policies are wrong. Their malevolence does not arise from the effect that they have on providers—the "producer interests", as they are sometimes called. Primary school children in classes of more than 30—there are 1 million such childrenßžare not "producer interests". Families who have to care for chronically sick and disabled loved ones at home without proper support are not "producer interests". Women on low incomes who need child care for their children in order to be able to get training and work are not "producer interests".

Those people and many more are all part of the great majority of the British people—the national community —who need good quality, publicly provided facilities. They will not be well served by opted-out, broken-up, pay-as-you-go health, education and social services. Their freedom of choice means nothing when there is little or no provision to choose from. Their freedom of opportunity is spurious when they have to take second-rate treatment in two-tier services. Many people know that already. Many more will tragically come to know it, and as they do, they will see that the Government's promise of choice and opportunity is fraudulent. They will recognise that the Government's commitment to a classless society is a pretence. They will realise that they are a Government who are not worthy of the country.