Orders of the Day — Finance Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:57 pm on 30th April 2002.

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Photo of Andrew Mitchell Andrew Mitchell Conservative, Sutton Coldfield 6:57 pm, 30th April 2002

One can do anything with the figures, as the hon. Gentleman eloquently made clear. My point is unanswerable: huge amounts of taxation are taken off hard-working people, and have to be justified. It behoves the House to honour that duty more often than is usually the case in our debates. Looking at the enormous amount of money recently loaded on to tax on income, we can only reflect on the fact that on the "Today" programme, on television in interviews with Mr. Dimbleby, and on page 10 of the last Labour manifesto, the Government made it clear that they had no intention of raising taxes on income, which is precisely what they have done. We can debate that, and the electorate will cast their judgment in due course. I merely point out that the Government have passed draconian and largely commendable legislation on the financial services industry, and that if they had issued a prospectus on tax on income, they would now be in serious trouble with the Financial Services Authority and would have got into hot water for producing such a misleading document.

A great deal of extra money is to be spent on health care. The Government are guilty of a massive dereliction of duty in their failure to put the reforms in place before they put in the extra money. It is astonishing that the money should be provided as it has been. The leverage for getting the reforms that are desperately needed in the health service has been thrown away because of the way in which the matter has been handled.

The Government will live to regret the fact that they have missed out on the key economic lesson of the past 50 or 60 years: that it is competitive, decentralised markets, not monopolistic, tax-financed institutions, which deliver for consumers. The NHS is not about a set of buildings or a set of staff. It is about a set of values. It is about being free at the point of need—[Interruption]—but the debate about whether or not the provision of health care should be private is a ridiculous debate.

Those on the Labour Benches continually go on about the fact that the Conservatives have yet to produce their plan on health. They will have to wait for that. We are serving the public and the taxpayer well by ensuring that we look around the world at all the other ways of delivering health care, and that we come back and give our plans to the House when we are good and ready, not as part of the ebb and flow of debate with the Chief Secretary.