Thursday, 15 February 2007

Letter published in the Oxford Mail, 15 February 2006


Henley MP Boris Johnson was quite right to highlight, in a Parliamentary debate last week, the unfairness of how life-saving cancer drugs are available free on the NHS in Scotland, but not in England.

While people living north of the border may receive the life-saving cancer drugs Herceptin or Velcade free on the NHS, it is denied to people here in England on the grounds of cost. The same is true if you suffer from Alzheimer’s- in Scotland drugs such as Aricept, Reminyl and Exelon are prescribed free, but in England we are told we cannot afford to give it out.

Mr. Johnson didn’t get a chance to say that what makes all of this even more unfair is that it is actually money from England that is paying for these drugs to handed out free on the NHS in Scotland. According to Treasury figures, last year England gave away £11.6 billion to the rest of the UK. No wonder Scotland can afford to prescribe life-saving drugs free, while cancer sufferers in England must go without.

Well done Mr. Johnson for highlighting this unfairness- we only need the other 645 UK MPs to speak up and we might start making progress!

Yours sincerely,

Tom Waterhouse
Campaign for an English Parliament

Wednesday, 14 February 2007

Oh dear

A rather misguided article on the Golden Strawberry. All about how an English Parliament would break up the Union, even how the Barnett Formula is the “basic principle of redistribution of wealth in action”!! Oh dear. I posted a response: (we'll see if it they publish it....)

Who speaks for England?

The Conservatives have not become an English party. They opposed the creation of the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly because they thought it would weaken the Union. Lop-sided devolution has weakened the Union.

This brings me on to another point- the Campaign for an English Parliament (CEP) believes an English Parliament is the only way of saving the Union. But that is just our belief. No-one can know for certain what the future holds. What we must not do is ignore the wishes of the majority of the people of England (as you rightly point out, 61% of people in England want an English Parliament), out of a fear that it may weaken the Union.

The Barnett Formula is most certainly not the “basic principle of redistribution of wealth in action”. Far from it. The Barnett Formula allocates resources throughout the UK based on population sizes, not need. Only when we have a formula that allocates resources throughout the UK on the basis of need will we see proper redistribution of wealth.

You ask, “Who, then, can speak for Britain?”. The question should be, in an asymmetrically governed UK, who can speak for England? Westminster is the UK Parliament. We have a Scottish Parliament, a Welsh Assembly and (hopefully) an Assembly for Northern Ireland. Who speaks for England? There is no political institution to speak up for England, even though England’s students are the only ones in the UK to pay University tuition fees. Only England’s pensioners have to sell their homes to afford personal care (in Scotland it is provided free), and only in England are life-saving cancer drugs like Herceptin unavailable on the NHS, denied on the grounds of cost (they are provided free in Scotland). And all the time, it is England’s money used to make University education, long-term personal care and life-saving drugs FREE in Scotland.

We need an English Parliament and Executive to speak for England. Otherwise, the Union, from England’s point of view, is simply not worth saving.

Wednesday, 7 February 2007

Well done, Mr. Johnson!

Boris Johnson has highlighted in a Parliamentary debate the unfairness of how life-saving cancer drugs like Herceptin are available free on the NHS in Scotland, but in England they are denied on the grounds of cost.

And, of course, the Herceptin made available in Scotland is paid for with English taxpayers' money.

Want to add your support to what Boris said? You can do so here.


Update 15 Feb: I'm pleased to see that plenty of people logged on and added their support to what Boris said. In fact, Health Minister Ivan Lewis got a bit of a bashing