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Mr. Simon Hughes: The Minister cannot seriously say that the Government's position is coherent. They say that

8 Dec 1998 : Column 210

they are against more charges, but they are bringing forward a Bill that would allow charges in one area to go up. No charges were mentioned in the Labour manifesto, but suddenly, hey presto, the Government are to produce more money from somewhere and charge the public for it.

Mr. Hutton: The hon. Gentleman has not understood the Bill. No new charges are being introduced. I thought that he had tried to make that point. The logic of his argument, although he did not spell it out in detail, is that he wants to increase taxes substantially. He will have to deal with that when the voters make their judgment at the next general election.

I should like to return briefly to the subject of the debate--the Bill. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State pointed out, it will enable hospitals to benefit fully for the first time in more than 60 years from the provisions that successive Administrations have endorsed, although they have never been given practical effect. This is not the first step on a slippery slope towards charging for NHS treatment. Let me make it crystal clear--no patient is to be charged and no one will be required to insure themselves against the cost of future treatment. The principle that has been in force throughout the existence of the NHS remains: the road user is required to insure against risk to third parties. That includes reimbursing hospitals for the cost of treating third parties.

We are not talking about charging everyone involved in a road accident for the cost of NHS treatment. The charges will be levied only when a claim for compensation arising from a road traffic accident has been made. The charge will be levied against the insurer of the person responsible for the accident. We estimate that approximately 40 per cent. of all road traffic accidents will be covered by the Bill.

Reference has been made to insurance premiums. Much of what has been said and written is patently untrue. Our figures show that if insurers pass on the charge--which is by no means certain, as some insurers have been open enough to admit--the effect on the average premium should be very small indeed--around 2 to 3 per cent. or £6 to £9. Insurers already factor potential NHS charges--whether or not they are collected--into premiums.

As many of my hon. Friends have said, our new system will see in NHS hospitals the end of the iniquitous charging of the emergency treatment fee. That will be better for drivers, hospitals and insurers. Each year there are hundreds of thousands of small transactions between hospitals and drivers and drivers and their insurance companies which will end when the Bill receives Royal Assent. At the current rate of £21.30, the cost of that process must certainly outweigh the benefit. The abolition of the emergency treatment fee will be welcome news to many people in and outside the national health service.

NHS care is and will remain free to all those who need it. The Bill does not affect that principle. It does not usher in a free season on that principle and it does not remotely hint at a change in direction. Nobody will be denied care or be prevented from seeking it as a result of the Bill. NHS patients stand to benefit directly from the practical steps brought in as a result of the measure and on that basis I commend it to the House.

8 Dec 1998 : Column 211

Question put, That the amendment be made:--

The House divided: Ayes 150, Noes 347.

Division No. 18
[7.41 pm


AYES


Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Allan, Richard
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Baker, Norman
Ballard, Jackie
Body, Sir Richard
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Brady, Graham
Brake, Tom
Brand, Dr Peter
Brazier, Julian
Breed, Colin
Browning, Mrs Angela
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)
Burns, Simon
Butterfill, John
Campbell, Menzies (NE Fife)
Chapman, Sir Sydney
(Chipping Barnet)
Chidgey, David
Chope, Christopher
Clappison, James
Clark, Rt Hon Alan (Kensington)
Clark, Dr Michael (Rayleigh)
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth
(Rushcliffe)
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Colvin, Michael
Cotter, Brian
Cran, James
Day, Stephen
Duncan, Alan
Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Evans, Nigel
Ewing, Mrs Margaret
Faber, David
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Michael
Foster, Don (Bath)
Fox, Dr Liam
Gale, Roger
Garnier, Edward
George, Andrew (St Ives)
Gibb, Nick
Gill, Christopher
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Gorrie, Donald
Gray, James
Green, Damian
Greenway, John
Grieve, Dominic
Gummer, Rt Hon John
Hammond, Philip
Harris, Dr Evan
Harvey, Nick
Hawkins, Nick
Hayes, John
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas
Horam, John
Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Hunter, Andrew
Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Jenkin, Bernard
Keetch, Paul
Key, Robert
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Kirkwood, Archy
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lansley, Andrew
Leigh, Edward
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Lidington, David
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
MacGregor, Rt Hon John
Maclennan, Rt Hon Robert
McLoughlin, Patrick
Malins, Humfrey
Maude, Rt Hon Francis
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
May, Mrs Theresa
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)
Moore, Michael
Morgan, Alasdair (Galloway)
Moss, Malcolm
Norman, Archie
Oaten, Mark
Öpik, Lembit
Ottaway, Richard
Page, Richard
Paterson, Owen
Pickles, Eric
Prior, David
Randall, John
Redwood, Rt Hon John
Rendel, David
Robathan, Andrew
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
Rowe, Andrew (Faversham)
Ruffley, David
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
St Aubyn, Nick
Sanders, Adrian
Sayeed, Jonathan
Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian
Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spring, Richard
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Steen, Anthony
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Desmond
Swinney, John
Syms, Robert
Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Tonge, Dr Jenny
Townend, John
Tredinnick, David
Trend, Michael
Tyler, Paul
Tyrie, Andrew
Viggers, Peter
Wallace, James
Walter, Robert
Wardle, Charles
Waterson, Nigel
Webb, Steve
Wells, Bowen
Whitney, Sir Raymond
Whittingdale, John
Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Willetts, David
Willis, Phil
Wilshire, David
Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Woodward, Shaun
Young, Rt Hon Sir George

Tellers for the Ayes:


Sir David Madel and
Mr. Tim Collins.


NOES


Abbott, Ms Diane
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)
Alexander, Douglas
Allen, Graham
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)
Armstrong, Ms Hilary
Ashton, Joe
Atherton, Ms Candy
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Barnes, Harry
Barron, Kevin
Battle, John
Bayley, Hugh
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Benn, Rt Hon Tony
Bennett, Andrew F
Bermingham, Gerald
Berry, Roger
Betts, Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Blunkett, Rt Hon David
Boateng, Paul
Borrow, David
Bradley, Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brinton, Mrs Helen
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Browne, Desmond
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Butler, Mrs Christine
Byers, Rt Hon Stephen
Caborn, Richard
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Campbell-Savours, Dale
Canavan, Dennis
Cann, Jamie
Caplin, Ivor
Casale, Roger
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chaytor, David
Chisholm, Malcolm
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)
Clark, Dr Lynda
(Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Clwyd, Ann
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cohen, Harry
Coleman, Iain
Colman, Tony
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Cooper, Yvette
Corbett, Robin
Corston, Ms Jean
Cousins, Jim
Cranston, Ross
Crausby, David
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cummings, John
Cunliffe, Lawrence
Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr Jack
(Copeland)
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs Claire
Dafis, Cynog
Dalyell, Tam
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Davidson, Ian
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Denham, John
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, Rt Hon Frank
Donohoe, Brian H
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, David
Drown, Ms Julia
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Etherington, Bill
Field, Rt Hon Frank
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Foulkes, George
Fyfe, Maria
Galbraith, Sam
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Godman, Dr Norman A
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grocott, Bruce
Grogan, John
Gunnell, John
Hain, Peter
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Harman, Rt Hon Ms Harriet
Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Healey, John
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hesford, Stephen
Hill, Keith
Hinchliffe, David
Home Robertson, John
Hood, Jimmy
Hoon, Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Howells, Dr Kim
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hurst, Alan
Hutton, John
Iddon, Dr Brian
Illsley, Eric
Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Johnson, Miss Melanie
(Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Jones, Mrs Fiona (Newark)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Ms Jenny
(Wolverh'ton SW)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Jowell, Ms Tessa
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)
Kelly, Ms Ruth
Kemp, Fraser
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Khabra, Piara S
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green)
Kumar, Dr Ashok
Lawrence, Ms Jackie
Laxton, Bob
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Lock, David
Love, Andrew
McAllion, John
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCafferty, Ms Chris
McCartney, Ian (Makerfield)
McDonagh, Siobhain
Macdonald, Calum
McDonnell, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKenna, Mrs Rosemary
Mackinlay, Andrew
McLeish, Henry
McNulty, Tony
MacShane, Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWilliam, John
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Marek, Dr John
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Martlew, Eric
Maxton, John
Michael, Alun
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Milburn, Alan
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Austin
Moffatt, Laura
Moonie, Dr Lewis
Moran, Ms Margaret
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Morgan, Rhodri (Cardiff W)
Morley, Elliot
Morris, Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
O'Hara, Eddie
Olner, Bill
O'Neill, Martin
Organ, Mrs Diana
Osborne, Ms Sandra
Palmer, Dr Nick
Pearson, Ian
Pendry, Tom
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter L
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pond, Chris
Pope, Greg
Powell, Sir Raymond
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Primarolo, Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Quin, Ms Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie
Radice, Giles
Rammell, Bill
Rapson, Syd
Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)
Reid, Rt Hon Dr John (Hamilton N)
Robinson, Geoffrey (Cov'try NW)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rogers, Allan
Rooker, Jeff
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Rowlands, Ted
Roy, Frank
Ruane, Chris
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Ryan, Ms Joan
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mohammad
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Barry
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Shipley, Ms Debra
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Singh, Marsha
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Snape, Peter
Soley, Clive
Southworth, Ms Helen
Squire, Ms Rachel
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stevenson, George
Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr Howard
Stott, Roger
Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin
Straw, Rt Hon Jack
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
(Dewsbury)
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Temple-Morris, Peter
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mark
Touhig, Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Vaz, Keith
Walley, Ms Joan
Ward, Ms Claire
Wareing, Robert N
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, Rt Hon Alan
(Swansea W)
Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Wills, Michael
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wise, Audrey
Wood, Mike
Woolas, Phil
Wray, James
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, Dr Tony (Cannock)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Noes:


Mr. David Hanson and
Mr. David Jamieson.

Question accordingly negatived.

8 Dec 1998 : Column 214

Main Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 62 (Amendment on Second or Third Reading), and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time, and committed to a Standing Committee, pursuant to Standing Order No. 63 (Committal of Bills).


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