Nobody could dispute that the rate of increase in spending under the present Administration since 1997 has been substantially in excess of what the Conservatives did or would have done, had they been in office. I am glad the hon. Gentleman mentions 1997. Part of the reason why I am addressing the House now is the record of the Tories on the NHS. In 1997, I had people coming to see me at my surgery with letters from their hospital stating that it would be two years before they could see an orthopaedic consultant to be put on the waiting list.
The reason Conservative Members object to my raising that and think we should be attacking solely the Government is that the Conservatives are portraying themselves now as the friends of the NHS. I find that laughable. They have form. They have form in cuts in their final year in office, they have form in voting against money for the NHS, they have form in the patients' passport, and only last month the Conservative leader took out from the first draft of his speech a line that pledged to match Labour's spending on the NHS. What was that about? If Mr. Lansley wants to reinsert that pledge on the record, I will give way to him.