Anna Soubry has given a wonderfully colourful interview to The Times today about her new job as Health Minister. The Conservative MP jumps through the usual hoops of having to talk about how she loves wearing high heels but doesn’t enjoy baking cupcakes, but she also makes a number of striking comments about health policy.
The most-widely-picked-up have been her comments on euthanasia. She told the newspaper:
‘The rules that we have about who we don’t prosecute allow things to happen but there’s a good argument that we should be a bit more honest about it.’
Norman Lamb appeared on Sky News this morning to say he also felt there was good reason to look at reform of assisted suicide laws. It’s interesting that two new junior ministers are leading the debate on this: Jeremy Hunt has thus far been rather quiet about his new job.
Soubry is also unremittingly positive about the NHS, making it clear she is a Conservative who believes in the Health Service and what it offers. After the row over the Health and Social Care Bill, and perhaps also after the row about the dancing nurses in the Olympics opening ceremony, it is important for Tories to be clear whether they do believe in the NHS. Hunt, after all, has already come under attack because he supported a book which argued for an insurance-based system. She says:
‘So when I had my gall bladder out, and a polyp on my throat, I had that done on the NHS, it was fantastic. I had both my daughters on the NHS – for me, the NHS is better.’
And the new minister also criticises the way Andrew Lansley and colleagues handled the reforms:
‘Obviously we were going into some quite scary territory and I don’t think we did a very good job at explaining it… We turned it into a massive deal and it should never have been a massive deal.’