SNP MPs TO VOTE ON ENGLAND’S NHS

SNP MPs TO VOTE ON ENGLAND’S NHS

ED BALLS HIGHLIGHTS NEED FOR SNP MPs TO VOTE ON ENGLAND’S NHS

LABOUR HYPOCRISY LAID BARE AFTER REFERENDUM SCARES

The SNP has today highlighted comments by Ed Balls which reinforce the reason why SNP MPs will vote on the NHS in England and matters south of the border that have a direct impact on Scotland.

In The Guardian Ed Balls says there is a risk that further cuts will lead to widespread patient charging – and in doing so totally contradicts the messages his party were issuing in the final days of the referendum campaign.

Mr Balls says: “..you cannot go down to such sustained low levels of public spending – the lowest for 70 years – and expect the NHS to remain recognisable.”

Before the referendum Labour repeatedly told Scots that the NHS was only safe with a No vote and with Scotland’s budget being set by Westminster.

This follows comments this week by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon who said that a Bill to restore the English NHS would be “good for England” and represents “enlightened self-interest” for Scotland.

The SNP position at Westminster is not to vote on matters which don’t impact on Scotland – but privatising the English NHS threatens the Scottish budget until such time as Scotland becomes fully financially autonomous. In 2003, for example, SNP MPs voted against Foundation Hospitals in England on the basis that moves to privatise the NHS in England pose a threat to Scotland’s budget under the Barnett Formula.

Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

“Ed Balls’ comments that the NHS is serious danger only serve to justify and reaffirm the SNP’s position to vote to save the NHS in England.

“But it is ironic coming from Mr Balls as the Labour Party were saying very different things about the NHS only a few short months ago in the final days of the referendum campaign.

“As we have been saying for some time now, Westminster’s agenda of austerity, privatisation and patient charging in the NHS in England threatens to harm Scotland’s budget, on which our NHS depends. If Labour now recognise this too then that is a welcome development.

“With this in mind, SNP MPs elected in May are prepared to vote for a Bill which would restore the National Health Service in England to the accountable public service it was always meant to be.

“This move would be good for England by giving people their health service back – and also represent enlightened self-interest for Scotland, by protecting the Scottish budget from the cuts which English privatisation are undoubtedly paving the way for.

“We want Scotland to be fully financially autonomous, but until that is achieved SNP MPs helping to reverse English health privatisation would be a vote in the Scottish national interest too.

“We are taking nothing for granted and will work extremely hard for every vote and seat, because if SNP MPs can be in a position of holding the balance of power at Westminster, we can help to further progressive politics across the UK, as well as in Scotland.”