Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:18 pm on 14th May 2019.

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Photo of Matthew Hancock Matthew Hancock Secretary of State for Health and Social Care 4:18 pm, 14th May 2019

The public health grant is of course an important part of this, but it is only one part. The overall funding of the NHS is rising by £33.9 billion, the first £6.2 billion of which came on stream last month. I understand the hon. Lady’s point. That is on the money. On the health inequalities, I entirely agree with her that they should be tackled. Doing so is at the heart of the NHS long-term plan. It is a vital task that we do not shirk. Indeed, we embrace it and are addressing it.

Let me turn to the details of the motion. While I care deeply about making sure that we have the best possible health in this nation and the strongest possible NHS—and we are prepared to put the resources in to see that happen—I also care about good governance of the nation. The way that we are run is one of the reasons this country has been strong over generations, and I believe that using the Humble Address to undermine the ability of experts, clinicians, and civil servants to give me the benefit of their frank and wise advice not only undermines me as Secretary of State, but makes it harder to make good decisions. I know the shadow Secretary of State sits on the Front Bench with revolutionaries, but I thought he was a grown-up. I do not know what his mentor, Lord Mandelson, would make of his posturing today. Of course, we will object to the motion and, if he searched the depths of his heart, he would too.

The hon. Gentleman has obviously had a missive from the Leader of the Opposition’s office—LOTO, as it is called—telling him to present the Humble Address, but it is not his style. I hope that we can get back to debating these issues on a proper motion in the future. I respect and like the hon. Gentleman: he is a really nice guy. If he had asked for the information directly—perhaps he could have sent me a message on the app—