My hon. Friend is right on both points. First, Secretaries of State do come and go—some more rapidly than others, I must say, from my career. Secondly, he is right that the founding principle of the NHS stays: it is enshrined in the National Health Service Act 1946 and the National Health Service Act 1977, which states:
"the services so provided shall be free of charge except in so far as the making and recovery of charges is expressly provided for".
There is absolutely no provision under the law for any charges or co-payment for basic hospital operations. That is why I say that any plans to introduce such charges would be unfair, immoral and illegal.