Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, last Thursday (14th November)
    launched a strong attack on the Government?s failure to tackle the looming
    pensions crisis and the lack of patient choice in the Health Service.
    Speaking in the opening debate on the Queen?s speech in the House of
    Commons, Mr. Lilley argued for greater patient choice and called for
    relevant measures to deal with the crisis in pensions.

    Peter Lilley said after the debate:

    “The Prime Minister?s response to the Queen?s Speech was one of the weakest
    performances I have ever heard from a prime minister seeking to defend his
    government?s programme. For a Queen?s Speech that was more notable for its
    omissions than for its legislative proposals, there was little that he said
    which sought to justify and defend his Government?s record and plans for the
    future. Instead, he spent most of his speech misrepresenting Conservative
    policies and delivering an unwarranted personal attack on the Leader of the
    Opposition.

    “Sadly, we no longer have the right to choose a hospital other than that to
    which our local health bureaucracy is contracted to send us. A fortnight
    ago I introduced a Ten Minute Rule Bill to restore this choice – which the
    Government removed three years ago. Although the government now talk about
    ?patient choice? the government?s programme contains almost none of the
    steps which I explained are essential to make choice effective choice.:
    first, to restore a patient?s choice of hospital; second, to provide much
    more information to patients on hospital outcomes, waiting lists and
    cleanliness; third, to make money follow choice and fourthly, to make
    hospitals genuinely independent.
    “Far from delivering choice and diversity in healthcare, New Labour continue
    to centralise and merge services without providing practical evidence to
    show that this produces improved outcomes for patients. This is
    particularly evident in Hertfordshire, where proposals for a new hospital
    would simply siphon off capacity from existing hospitals and result in no
    extra beds – not to mention the closure of what remains of St. Albans
    hospital.

    “There is nothing in the Government?s programme to deal with the crisis in
    pensions. Many people in Hitchin and Harpenden are already suffering from
    the Chancellor?s ?5 billion raid on pension funds. The reality is that
    Ministers have lapsed into a state of indecision and paralysis over this
    very serious situation. We do not need a prolonged Royal Commission to
    achieve consensus on this issue. What we do need are sensible measures to
    encourage much greater private provision and more incentives to save than
    exist at present. I am working on my own constructive proposals for
    tackling the pensions crisis .”

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