NHS and Social Care Commission

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:37 pm on 28th January 2016.

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Photo of Debbie Abrahams Debbie Abrahams Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions) 3:37 pm, 28th January 2016

I congratulate Norman Lamb, my hon. Friend Liz Kendall and the other Members who secured this debate. We have heard some thoughtful speeches and different views from both sides of the House. I reflect on the comments of Helen Whately, whom it is a pleasure to follow. I, too, believe that the commission, although in principle a good idea, would be a distraction.

My hon. Friend Valerie Vaz talked about what was different in 2009. In 2011, just after the coalition Government formed, we had the opportunity to hold a cross-party round table. It was proposed by my right hon. Friend Andy Burnham, but rejected by the coalition. It comes down to what many people have said about the difficulty of taking politics out of such a debate. It is down to political will.

There are a few points I want to talk about. Dr Lee made the point—and, although coming from a different viewpoint, I fundamentally agree with him—about having different ideological perspectives. I want to focus for a moment on the Health and Social Care Act 2012. I served on two Bill Committees with Jeremy Lefroy—who really embodies the term “honourable Gentleman”, so I am sorry I disagree with him on this point. At the time, the Opposition made real efforts to explore and provide the evidence base for the implications of the Bill and what would happen, and I am afraid that much of that has come true.

All this is based on the fact that the Government, and at that time the coalition Government, have a different view of the NHS and, I suspect—although I cannot recall whether this is on the record—how it should be funded. We believe absolutely passionately—we fought the general election on this basis, as we did on a number of issues—in a publicly funded NHS, funded through general taxation, with the NHS as a preferred provider. We have committed to repeal the Health and Social Care Act, because we believe that its basis—section 75, which compels all providers to put their contracts out to tender—is wrong, and it has been proven wrong.