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NHS Finances

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:49 am on 14th March 2006.

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Photo of Jane Kennedy Jane Kennedy Minister of State (Quality and Patient Safety), Department of Health 10:49 am, 14th March 2006

This has been an interesting debate. I hope that you will allow, Mr. Amess, that it has been combative, and I intend to respond in true style and take no prisoners.

I congratulate Andrew George on this timely debate. It is a matter of great public debate. I particularly commend the contribution of Mr. Stuart, whose style I will emulate in my response.

In my firmly held view, having known the party for such a long time, hypocrisy on the subject abounds among the Liberal Democrats. With no credible policy on the future of the health service, they hide behind "The Orange Book" in which Mr. Laws discusses the central proposals of the break-up of the NHS and a move to a system of social insurance. There was not one word about any of that in today's important debate. It is interesting that all those who espoused and were involved in drawing up "The Orange Book" have been promoted.

The hon. Member for Yeovil went on to argue for a switch from a monopoly NHS system to a national health insurance system, with the heath service remaining in place but as only one of the options available to all citizens. He went on to say:

"Additional charges could be paid by those people willing to pay for higher quality non-clinical services, such as private rooms. Such 'enhancement' charges would be set by each health insurance provider."

If it is argued that "The Orange Book" was pre-general election, at the party's September conference Mr. Oaten