Health Infrastructure Plan

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:49 pm on 30th September 2019.

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Photo of Edward Argar Edward Argar Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care) 3:49 pm, 30th September 2019

I will at least start by expressing gratitude to the hon. Gentleman for his kind words at the beginning of his remarks. As he says, we work closely together in our city and county, although I suspect that that spirit of co-operation might not extend across these Dispatch Boxes. None the less, it is a pleasure to stand opposite him. Although I would not agree with his characterisation of where the money has gone, is he, on the basis of that characterisation, suggesting that his own seat is a marginal constituency?

I find it extraordinary that the shadow Secretary of State takes opposition to a new level by opposing investment in our NHS, trying to cavil and challenge it. He will forgive me if I do not take his specific questions in the same order as he asked them, but I will run through as many of them as I can recall or as I noted down.

On mental health, I have to say that I find it very difficult to take lessons from the hon. Gentleman when this Government have invested huge additional sums in mental health care. As I mentioned in my opening remarks, we have allocated capital for Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust—the announcement was made earlier this summer—and for Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, so I think the hon. Gentleman is perhaps being a little unfair in suggesting there is no investment in mental health from this Government.

This is an ambitious programme, but unlike the last Labour Government, we will not leave hospitals saddled with masses of private finance initiative debt. That programme was massively expanded under the Labour Government he served as a special adviser. Perhaps he should welcome this Government’s approach, which is to give hospitals the funding they need to deliver without saddling them with debt.

We have made it clear that the hospitals named in HIP 1 have the funding to go ahead, including the hospitals that serve his constituency and mine. I am a little surprised to hear the hon. Gentleman challenge the notion that anyone bidding for huge sums of public money should have to go through a business case. Surely when we are spending public money, it is reasonable of us to make sure it delivers value for money and better outcomes for patients. I know the Labour party does not pay much attention to value for money, but my party and this Government do. We are focused on patient outcomes and delivering investment in our NHS. We can say proudly that, with this raft of announcements, the extra £33 billion and the announcements made already, we truly are the party of the NHS.