HC Deb 13 July 1982 vol 27 c839
3. Mr. David Atkinson

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make a statement on the financing of the Health Service.

The Secretary of State for Social Services (Mr. Norman Fowler)

Between 1978–79 and last year we provided for 5 per cent. growth in NHS services. This year we shall be spending over £12 billion, which represents a further planned increase in real terms, although we are again asking authorities to make a contribution towards service growth through increased efficiency.

Mr. Atkinson

I thank my right hon. Friend for that encouraging reply. Would he care to comment on the report on the front page of The Guardian today that suggests that he is scrapping a circular to health authorities on the privatisation of hospital services?

Mr. Fowler

The report's author is set fair to become one of our leading imaginative writers. We remain committed to more contracting out where that saves the NHS money. That is not a doctrinaire policy; it is common sense.

Mrs. Dunwoody

As even the Minister's wholly inadequate pay offer will take 34 per cent. of the finance away from the RHAs, how does he reconcile the figure that he gave with his pledge that new money will go into the Health Service? Is he not cutting the finance available?

Mr. Fowler

Typically, the hon. Lady has it wrong. The amount of new money going into the Health Service will be reduced, but that is the inevitable consequence of the pay offer, for which she is doing nothing to secure a settlement.

Mr. Forman

In the sensible and generous funding of the National Health Service, will my right hon. Friend confirm that he has set his face against the expensive use of the insurance principle, in view of evidence from the Continent that that would make the service more expensive and less good value?

Mr. Fowler

My first aim is a partnership between the private and public sectors.

Mr. Ennals

As an increase of nearly 1 per cent. a year is required to cope with the ageing population and to keep pace with modern developments, is not the proposal for the next two or three years of a 0.5 per cent. increase a cut in NHS revenue?

Mr. Fowler

We have gone over this matter in the Select Committee, and the right hon. Gentleman knows that the figure is subject to review. The 0.5 per cent. planned increase, which comes from increased efficiency, is reasonable and is accepted by the regional chairmen.

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