Cameron puts NHS at heart of Tory agenda

DAVID Cameron has put investment in the National Health Service at the heart of Conservative policy after telling the right wing agitators demanding cuts in taxation that they would not get their way.

By Graham Dines

DAVID Cameron has put investment in the National Health Service at the heart of Conservative policy after telling the right wing agitators demanding cuts in taxation that they would not get their way.

In his keynote speech on the final day of the Tory Party conference in Bournemouth, the Tory leader promised that the NHS would be safe in his hands if he wins the General Election.

He also said he would back a climate change bill if the Government presents one in next month's Queen's Speech, promised that a future Tory administration would scrap the Human Rights Act and replace it with a British Bill of Rights, and said it was essential that tens of thousands of new homes had to be built to ensure a supply of affordable housing for the young generation.

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Mr Cameron pledged he would never cut health funding, although he believed the cash poured in by the taxpayer should be better spent. He sought to allay voters' fears that if the Conservatives were elected public services would be slashed or privatised to enable massive cuts in taxation.

Mr Cameron said “irresponsible tax cuts” were not part of his agenda because of the need to maintain funding for the NHS.

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He hailed the creation of the service as “one of the greatest achievements of the 20th century,” declaring: “The NHS is vitally important to every family in this country. It certainly is to mine

“When your family relies on the NHS all the time - day after day, night after night - you know how precious it is.”

His personal experience as the father of a severely handicapped young son, and echoing the famous “the NHS will be safe in our hands” pledge made by Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s, he went on: “For me, it's not just a question of saying the NHS is safe in my hands. My family is so often in the hands of the NHS - so I want them to be safe there.

“The waste of money in the NHS is nothing next to the waste of talent and energy and hope.

“So I make this commitment to the NHS and all who work in it. No more pointless and disruptive reorganisations. Yes change is necessary in the NHS. But that change must come from the bottom up: driven by the wishes and needs of the NHS professionals and patients.”

Mr Cameron also used his speech to address the critics who claim he lacks real substance. “Facing up to real questions, and making clear where you stand, is what leadership is all about. I want to deal directly with the issue of substance.

“Substance is not about a ten point plan. It is about deeper things than that. It is about knowing what you believe. It is about sticking to your guns.

“It is about taking time to think things through, not trotting out the easy answers that people want to hear. It is about character, and judgement and consistency. It is about policy, yes; but it's about developing policy for the long term," he said.

Mr Cameron said the Government's obsession with ID cards was wrong and the Tories would scrap them. Labour was pressing ahead with ID cards, which wouldn't stop illegal immigrants coming into the UK, “when they could bring us proper border controls which just might.

“People who threaten our security should be arrested, charged, put in front of a court, tried and imprisoned. That is the British way of doing things.” And he implied the Conservatives would allow phone tapping to be used as evidence to secure a conviction.

Mr Cameron said the British people needed their human rights protected but they needed a legal framework for those rights which did not hamper the fight against terror.

“That is why we will abolish the Human Rights Act and replace it with a British Bill of Rights,” he said.

On climate change he said the Government had to show leadership, setting binding targets for carbon reduction, year on year. “That would create a price for carbon in our economy - things that produce more carbon will get more expensive.

“Going green is not some fashionable, pain-free option. It will place a responsibility on business. It will place a responsibility on all of us.

“Tackling climate change is our social responsibility - to the next generation. It's much easier to take steps that will be painful if political parties work together, instead of playing it for partisan advantage.

“We have asked Tony Blair to put a Climate Change Bill in the Queen's Speech. If he does, we'll back it. So come on Prime Minister, it's your last few months in office. It's your last Queen's Speech. Use it to do something for the environment.”

Although conference representatives were expecting his affirmation that he would not go into an election pledging tax cuts, many were taken by surprise at his support for building tens of thousands of new homes to ensure there was a plentiful supply of affordable homes for young people.

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