Iain Duncan Smith congratulates the Secretary of State for Health on securing funding for a pay rise for nurses and other NHS workers.
I congratulate my right hon. Friend; I know of his huge personal commitment to the NHS and how he has battled for it over the years—I have seen that personally. I unashamedly, absolutely agree that this is a very good deal, and I congratulate nurses and others on this pay rise, which they deserve and for which they have worked very hard. Is it not also right to recognise and remember that back in 2008-09, Labour’s great depression plunged the economy into the biggest and most difficult economic trench that it has faced? As a result of our stewardship and our support of the NHS through that period, unlike many other countries that cut their health spending, we secured 200,000 jobs in the NHS, and now we can start rewarding staff for their hard work.
I thank my right hon. Friend and commend him on his courage in putting through some incredibly challenging and important reforms to our welfare state, when many people said that it was nigh on impossible. He is right: the biggest and most misleading thing that we hear is the charge that in austerity Britain, the NHS budget has been cut. In fact, the countries that cut their health budgets were Portugal and Greece—countries that are following precisely the policies that are advocated by the Opposition. In this country—so-called austerity Britain—NHS spending has gone up by 9%.