Below is the text of the speech made by Iain Duncan Smith, the then Leader of the Opposition, at the launch of the Conservative Consultation Document on Health on 5th June 2003.
The Labour Government is dangerously divided.
And it’s got its priorities hopelessly wrong.
That’s as plain today as it will ever be.
We are not be going to spend today talking about the euro.
We are going to talk about things that are already damaging the British people’s quality of life…
Day in, day out…
The public services on which they depend — and which are now failing them badly under Labour.
But the Government are most certainly talking about the euro today.
And they’ll still be talking about it tomorrow.
And for a long time after that.
Even as – we – speak, Mr Blair and Mr Brown are lining up their coalitions, on either side of the Cabinet table, ready for a battle over the euro — in which the losers will be the British people.
While the Government are busy talking about something people don’t want — the euro — we will be talking about something they do want – better healthcare.
This distracted and divided Government should be focusing on the things that really matter to the British people.
The British people want better public services.
Public services that work – and work well.
We’ve already begun.
For the past two years, we have been conducting the most wide-ranging policy review for a generation.
A policy review focused on making the public services better.
We have travelled – at home and abroad – learning from whatever works best for people.
So last month, we promised to scrap Labour’s university tuition fees – their tax on learning.
Today, Liam Fox and I are launching fresh, exciting proposals designed to give British people the better healthcare they need and deserve.
Today begins a full consultation with patients and professionals on something that will make a real difference to people’s lives.
The ‘patient’s passport’ is our plan to give people real choice over the health treatment they receive.
This will be a fair deal for patients.
A fair deal for everyone on healthcare.
Our proposals will mean…
Fairer healthcare, with no-one left behind, as we expand choice to everyone, not just those who can afford it.
Fairer healthcare, with no-one held back, as we recognise the contributions of those who pay for their own treatment.
Last year, a staggering number of people – 300,000 – paid for their own treatment.
Most of them were pensioners — desperate people, who had suffered for too long.
Under our proposals for a Patient’s Passport, everyone in the NHS will be able to get treatment at the hospital of their choice, free of charge.
And people who choose to go outside the NHS for their treatment will be helped, not penalised.
Our proposals would also mean…
Better healthcare for everyone, with choice driving innovation and excellence.
And more healthcare, as we expand the capacity of the health system in Britain.
Our proposals would mean nothing less than a revolution in healthcare.
We will preserve all the founding ideals of the NHS.
Healthcare, according to your need not your ability to pay, and free at the point of delivery.
But, for the first time in its history, the NHS would become a truly national health service — embracing our belief that healthcare is first and foremost about the patient.
Compared to that, everything else is surely secondary.
Our plans for a patients’ passport, combined with our plans to shift power from politicians to doctors, nurses and hospitals, will deliver a fair deal for everyone on healthcare.
We care enough to find out what people really want, and we are open-minded enough to find out what really works.
That’s why last month we promised to scrap Labour’s university tuition fees, abolishing their tax on learning.
That’s why today we are proposing to give every patient in Britain a Patient’s Passport, making real choice available to all, not just those who can afford it.
We have the courage and vision to commit Britain to a better course.
Today, we are taking forward our fight, on behalf of the British people…
For better public services — and a fair deal for everyone.
A fair deal for people who find themselves paying higher and higher taxes, but not getting the improved public services they need.
We will give them those better public services
…public services where no-one is held back…
…and no-one is left behind.
A fair deal for people who deserve better healthcare.
A fair deal for people who deserve a better education.
A fair deal for people who have been made to wait and suffer too long.
That’s our fair deal for everyone in Britain.