HC Deb 14 May 1996 vol 277 cc758-9
10. Mr. Foulkes

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what is the percentage of NHS income received from (a) private sources, (b) taxation, (c) prescription charges and (d) other sources in 1995. [27990]

Mr. Dorrell

The percentage of national health service income in 1994–95 from the sources listed by the hon. Gentleman was: from private sources, 1.4 per cent.; from taxation and national insurance contributions, 96.8 per cent.; from prescription charges, 0.9 per cent.; and from other sources, 0.9 per cent.

Mr. Foulkes

That is exactly the reply that I expected. Does the Secretary of State agree that that shows the creeping privatisation of the NHS?

Mr. Dorrell

The strategy of the hon. Member for Peckham (Ms Harman) has obviously been kept secret from the hon. Gentleman. My answer shows no such thing. It shows that the national health service continues under this Government to be a tax-funded health service, providing health care on the basis of people's clinical need and without regard to their ability to pay.

Mr. Thomason

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that it was the Labour party that introduced legislation to increase charges on prescriptions and that the proportion of public funding for the NHS has remained constant for the past decade?

Mr. Dorrell

Yes. My hon. Friend is right. The commitment to the national health service as a system to provide health care to those who need it on the basis of their clinical need is shared across the House. What is contrary to the public interest, and what makes me angry, is that that consensus is being undermined by the Opposition.

Mr. Bryan Davies

Everyone knows that the increases in prescription and dental charges have been excessive over the past 17 years. What is behind that? Is it the Government's belief that people who can afford to pay value their health more?

Mr. Dorrell

Everyone is aware that the charges were introduced under legislation passed by a Labour Government and that 85 per cent. of NHS prescriptions are dispensed without a charge. The charge is made on those who are in a position to pay.