Orders of the Day — Budget Resolutions and Economic Situation

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:41 pm on 7th July 1997.

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Photo of Frank Dobson Frank Dobson The Secretary of State for Health 4:41 pm, 7th July 1997

I had not heard that, but it would seem to me that they are coming close to breaking the law themselves and to inducing other people to break the law.

Estimates of the sum that should be paid to the NHS range from £50 million a year, through £130 million a year, to an estimate by the Automobile Association of £440 million a year. We propose to legislate, though not to change the principle, which was established in the 1930s and affirmed as recently as 1988, that the NHS should be entitled to collect the money. We intend to legislate to put that principle into practice and do what Parliament voted to do, but previous Governments failed to do.

All those measures, taken together, should provide substantial funds for the NHS in future years and I am glad to say that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has agreed that any savings made by the NHS will not be offset by reductions in funding. Indeed, it would be more accurate to say that he and I believe that the increased funding for next year and subsequent years can be justified only if both the extra money and existing resources are spent on patient care and not squandered on bureaucracy, fraud and waste.