HC Deb 03 December 1991 vol 200 cc138-9
10. Mr. Day

To ask the Secretary of State for Health by how much spending on the national health service (a) in England and (b) in the United Kingdom will increase in 1992–93.

Mr. Waldegrave

Total NHS spending is forecast to increase by £2.2 billion in England and by £2.8 billion in the United Kingdom next year. That means that, throughout the United Kingdom, the national health service will be spending roughly £100 million per day.

Mr. Day

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the shadow Chancellor said recently that to repair what he unjustifiably called the Government's neglect of the national health service would require an extra £2billion in this year's autumn statement? Given that an extra £2.8 billion was found, has my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State received an apology from the right hon. and learned Member for Monklands, East (Mr. Smith), or have any of Labour's Front-Bench spokesmen for health offered to withdraw that allegation?

Mr. Waldegrave

I wrote a number of letters to Labour's spokesman on such matters, asking him to clarify Labour's spending pledges. Some months later, he is still working on the reply, but doubtless I shall receive it sooner or later. Labour's spending pledges are in an equal muddle to its policy position, which was described, in two separate New Statesman and Society articles last week and this week as being meaningless.

Mr. Eastham

Is the not Secretary of State continuously presenting a distorted view when he tries to convince the House that the Government are spending more on the national health service? Is it not a fact that with 560,000 people reaching the age of 65 this year and the elderly accounting for a larger proportion of the population, national health service provision is proportionately poorer, not better?

Mr. Waldegrave

The hon. Gentleman is wrong. His difficulty is that his party has nothing to tell him about what it would spend if it were returned to power, which it will not be. That lack of leadership makes it difficult for him to do other than cavil at our figures. I sympathise with him.