HC Deb 20 July 2000 vol 354 cc522-3
2. Mrs. Caroline Spelman (Meriden)

What discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Health on the implementation of the national changeover plan within the national health service. [130129]

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Stephen Timms)

The implementation of national changeover planning in the public sector is overseen by a committee of Ministers, which is chaired by my hon. Friend the Economic Secretary, who is attending today's European Union Budget Council. The interests of the NHS are represented on the committee by the Under-Secretary of State for Health, my noble Friend Lord Hunt.

Mrs. Spelman

The Government pledged to make savings of £100 million on NHS bureaucracy. Will the Financial Secretary confirm that nearly all of that will be negated by the national changeover plan?

Mr. Timms

No. That is certainly not the case. All parts of the public sector need to undertake analysis and planning for the possibility of UK entry to the single currency. If there is a clear and unambiguous economic case for Britain to participate, we want to be able to do so. The work being undertaken by NHS trusts is a small task and can be managed well within existing resources.

There is a proposal floating around which should worry the hon. Lady very greatly, given her concern—which I know is genuine—for the health service, and that is her party's policy to make £16 billion of spending cuts.

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