During today’s emergency Parliamentary debate on the ‘Cash for Cameron’ scandal, Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude, towards the end of an hour-long grilling from backbenchers over which policies may have been influenced by donations, was quizzed on the possibility that private health companies had bought influence over the health and social care bill.
Maude was asked by Ronnie Campbell (Labour, Blyth Valley):
“Can the minister give us details of any health companies, private health companies that were trying to influence the bill, have met in Downing Street for lunch, particularly Alpha Healthcare, which gave half a million pounds to the Liberal Party?”
Failing to answer the charge directly, he replied:
“Mr Speaker I can guarantee that there will be a great deal more transparency about what any health companies, dealings they’ve had with government and with ministers than there will be about the health service unions’ dealings with the Labour Party.”
This is not the first time the probity of the health bill, and that of Andrew Lansley, has been called into question in the House.
As Left Foot Forward reported last October, Lansley was asked by Kerry McCarthy (Labour, Bristol East):
“Given the Secretary of State’s own known connections with private healthcare companies, can the Secretary of State assure the House that he has been as transparent as possible about the influence of private healthcare companies on the passage of the health bill?”
It was an implication he strenuously denied.
However, the Daily Telegraph last year disclosed:
Andrew Lansley bankrolled by private healthcare provider…
John Nash, the chairman of Care UK, gave £21,000 to fund Andrew Lansley’s personal office in November. Mr Nash, a private equity tycoon, also manages several other businesses providing services to the NHS and stands to be one of the biggest beneficiaries of Conservative policies to increase the use of private health providers.
With the Sunday Mirror revealing:
A private health firm with close Tory links has won a £53million prison hospitals contract… despite an NHS bid offering a better service.
Care UK’s then boss John Nash and wife Caroline donated £200,000 to the Conservatives before the general election, including £21,000 to health secretary Andrew Lansley’s private office.
Now the company has won the huge contract to run health services for 5,000 prisoners at eight jails in north east England – with its cheaper, lower quality bid.
• Exposed: Lansley’s NHS reform cheerleaders 16 Mar 2011
• Lansley’s links with health insurance industry 6 Oct 2010
With 40 peers who voted on the health bill known to have private sector health interests, and the Liberal Democrats now dragged into the H&SCB mire over their £500,000 donation from Alpha Healthcare, the ‘Cash for Cameron’ scandal could potentially get a whole lot worse than merely the (already shocking) idea the super-rich can buy a cut in the top rate of tax, but that private health companies can seek to kill the NHS by donating big money to a Tory health secretary and the Lib Dems.
We will have more on the questions over the potential corruption of the health and social care bill later this week on Left Foot Forward.