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National Health Service (Expenditure)

Volume 649: debated on Monday 20 November 1961

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asked the Minister of Health whether it remains his policy to limit the annual increase of expenditure on the National Health Service to 2½ per cent. for the next four years.


asked the Minister of Health what plans he has to limit the expenditure on the public-financed health services by a fixed amount; and over what period he is planning such a limitation.

The Government's intentions regarding increases in Health Service expenditure remain as announced by my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 26th July.

Did not the Minister, in the course of his Lloyd Roberts lecture, state that the increase in the expenditure on the Service should be limited to 2½ per cent. for the next three or four years? Does not this mean that had this limit been imposed in recent years there would in fact have been a progressive annual cut in the Service? Is it his intention that the Service shall be cut during the next four years?

No, Sir. The statement that I made was a repetition of the statement of my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The increase in real expenditure on the Service in recent years has been broadly of this amount, but, as the hon. Member knows very well, the real increase in the effectiveness of the Service is by no means to be measured by the total sum spent on it year by year.

If the Minister is to adhere to this ceiling of 2½ per cent., will it be in terms of real money, and will he make some adjustment for it, or will it be a straight 2½ per cent.?

Will the Minister make clear whether the 2½ per cent. includes any increases there may be in wages and salaries? He talked in one breath about the real increase and in another breath about the overall increase. Which is it to be?

The words used by my right hon. and learned Friend, in the passage which I quoted, are "in real terms".