Comment Will you be charged to be treated on the NHS?
TORY right-wingers have set out their proposals for governing Britain. They include selling the BBC to the private sector, charging patients to use the NHS and ending UK aid to foreign countries.
The ideas were set out in proposed new laws presented to the House of Commons by a number of Conservative backbenchers on Tuesday.
It’s extremely unlikely that any of the laws will actually be approved by Parliament. And they may only be supported by a small minority of Tory MPs. But they do provide an insight into the type of society some Conservative backbenchers would like to live in.
Proposed laws include the National Health Service (Co-Funding and Co-Payment) Bill, backed by Christchurch Conservative MP Christopher Chope and Wellingborough Conservative MP Peter Bone.
This would “make provision for co-funding and for the extension of co-payment for NHS services in England”.
Co-payment is when you have to pay for NHS services. Many people already have to pay to see an NHS dentist, for example. But the MPs want to extend this to other services.
Then there’s the Public Service Broadcasters (Privatisation) Bill, backed by Mr Chope, Mr Bone and Shipley MP Philip Davies.
This would privatise both the BBC and Channel 4, which is also publicly owned. The three MPs are joined by Ribble Valley Conservative Nigel Evans, Bridgwater MP Ian LiddellGrainger and Tatton MP Esther McVey in backing the BBC Licence Fee (Civil Penalty) Bill, which would “decriminalise” the non-payment of the BBC licence fee – effectively making it optional.
The Government Departments (Abolition) Bill is backed by Mr Bone, Mr Davies, Mr Chope, Sittingbourne & Sheppey Conservative MP Gordon Henderson and St Austell and Newquay Tory MP Steve Double.
It would abolish the Department for International Development – which in practice would mean the end of UK aid to foreign countries.
The Bill would also abolish the Government Equalities Office, which is currently responsible for equality strategy and legislation across government.
And it would abolish the Office of the Secretary of State for Wales, Scotland Office and Northern Ireland Office, which would mean those nations no longer had their own Secretaries of State in the Cabinet of the UK government. Instead, there would be a “Department for the Nations of the United Kingdom”.
A Schools Bill, backed by Mr Chope, Mr Bone, Mr Davies and Cleethorpes Conservative MP Martin Vickers, would make it easier to bring back grammar schools by ending the ban on pupil selection.
It would also “allow schools to determine maximum class sizes”, ending the current maximum limit of 30 pupils to a class.
Some Conservatives also want to give us an extra bank holiday.
The June Bank Holiday (Creation) Bill, backed by Mr Bone, Mr Davies, Mr Double, Hazel Grove Conservative William Wragg and Sir David Amess, Conservative MP for Southend West, would “make provision for a national public holiday on June 23 or the subsequent weekday when June 23 falls at a weekend”. This is, of course, the date of the 2016 EU referendum, which the MPs clearly want to celebrate. And the EU features in other proposed new laws too.
Mr Bone, Mr Henderson, Mr Davies and Mr Chope are proposing what they call the European Union (Return of Contributions) Bill.
This would solve the current dispute over how much the UK should pay the EU when Brexit takes place by requiring the Government “to obtain, on withdrawal from the European Union, a payment from the European Union not less than 50 per cent of the United Kingdom’s net contributions to that institution”.
In other words, the Government would somehow have to make the EU give us £4 billion as a goodbye present.
The Local Authorities (Removal of Council Tax Restrictions) Bill, backed by Mr Chope, Mr Bone, Walsall North Conservative MP Eddie Hughes and
Many people already have to pay to see an NHS dentist. But the MPs want to extend this to other services
others, would allow local councils to put up council tax by more than two per cent.
At the moment, they have to obey a strict limit of two per cent (and in some cases an extra three per cent if they spend the money on social care) or hold a referendum of local voters – which they would be certain to lose.
There are some proposals which might actually win support from MPs across the House of Commons.
The Hospital (Parking Charges and Business Rates) Bill, backed by Mr Bone, Ms McVey and others, would ban hospitals from charging patients and visitors for parking. It would also exempt hospitals from paying business rates.
And the Healthcare (Local Accountability) Bill would put a stop to controversial “NHS sustainability and transformation plans”, which in some parts of the country involve cuts to services, unless they were backed by local people in a referendum.
> One of the proposed ideas would see patients being charged to use the NHS