I will make a little progress now, if I may. I promise I will take more interventions later.
I say directly to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, who will be responding to the debate later, that if Ministers are given flexibility to set pay rates, and if the pay cap has indeed been abandoned, she also needs to grant the NHS the funding that it needs. The NHS is underfunded and it is going through the biggest financial squeeze in its history. On the published figures, head-for-head NHS spending will fall in the next year. Hospitals are in deficit, waiting lists are at 4 million, the A&E target is never met and the 18-week target has been abandoned. Hospital bosses are warning that there will not be enough beds this winter. Last winter, hospitals were overcrowded, ambulances were backed up and social care was at a tipping point. Some even characterised it as a humanitarian crisis. It is not good enough for the Chief Secretary to the Treasury just to grant “flexibility” and expect hospitals to fund a staff pay increase from existing budgets.