HC Deb 15 December 1998 vol 322 cc751-2
10. Mr. David Taylor (North-West Leicestershire)

If he will make a statement on his policy on emergency treatment fees in the NHS for road accident victims. [62452]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Mr. John Hutton)

The Government intend to end collection of the emergency treatment fee by national health service trusts. An amendment to section 158 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, removing the right of NHS trusts to the fee, is contained in the Road Traffic (NHS Charges) Bill which was introduced in the House of Commons on 27 November 1998 and which was given a Second Reading on 8 December.

Mr. Taylor

I thank the Minister for that reply. Is he aware, that on 12 March 1991, the right hon. Member for Charnwood (Mr. Dorrell), who was then a junior Health Minister, stated in a written answer that the Conservative Government intended to abolish the emergency treatment fee as soon as a suitable legislative vehicle becomes available"?—[Official Report, 12 March 1991; Vol. 187, c. 493.] That vehicle was clearly involved in a nasty collision, because the then Government announced the death of that intention in June 1995.

In the light of that, how does my hon. Friend react to the Opposition's criticism of what the Government intend to do, and how does he rate, on a scale of one to 20, the utter political hypocrisy of that criticism?

Mr. Hutton

I am grateful for that question. It is probably another example of hot air as regards the Opposition's promises when they were in government—promises on which they conspicuously failed to deliver. On this occasion, as on many others, it has taken a Labour Government to clear up the mess that they left behind.