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Public Responsibility For Social Justice

Part of Orders of the Day — Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 6:46 pm on 10th March 1997.

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Photo of William Hague William Hague Secretary of State for Wales 6:46 pm, 10th March 1997

The hon. Gentleman's hair style is the only thing about him of which I am jealous. I am not jealous of his arithmetic. Our plans for the coming year compared with those for the corresponding period last year provide for a like-for-like increase in spending on the national health service in Wales of £94 million. That increase is above the rate of inflation, and the hon. Gentleman does not promise to match it in the next Parliament.

The other speech by a member of the official Opposition was made by the hon. Member for Cunninghame, North (Mr. Wilson). He said that a national minimum wage would be a landmark reform and would transform the situation of many people. His speech was all the more remarkable because he could not answer the most elementary questions about it, such as at what level it would be set. If we had been able to ask him, I have no doubt that he would not have been able to tell us how many jobs would be lost. He said that such issues would be considered by a commission. The deputy leader of the Labour party once said that a minimum wage would lead to a shake. Evidently not every fool knows that.

The hon. Gentleman said that, with such a huge amount of public expenditure, there was bound to be room for a re-ordering of priorities. He said that there must be scope to re-order priorities, given that the Government spend billions of pounds. Where is that argument when we discuss local government spending? How come Labour wants the Government to give more money because there is no scope whatever to re-order priorities in local government?

The hon. Gentleman called for a long-term view and left in a great hurry to get on with his role as shadow Minister for election planning.