Tory minister defends comments describing NHS as a potential 'Ponzi scheme'

Philip LeeHouse of CommonsPhilip Lee MP

MANCHESTER — A Conservative minister was tonight forced to defend comments describing taxpayer-funded healthcare as a potential “Ponzi scheme” that is “about to collapse”.

Justice Minister Philip Lee made the controversial comments at a fringe event at Conservative party conference.

Lee, who is a trained doctor, was speaking at a Social Market Foundation event on Monday and appeared to suggest that young people may no longer have access to the NHS in their later years.

His comments were subsequently widely shared on Twitter.

Speaking to Business Insider, Lee said his comments about the NHS, which can be read in full here, had been “taken out of context” but insisted he stood by his full remarks.

“I’ve seen the tweets,” he said at an event attended by BI on Monday evening.

“The problem with Twitter is there is not much space for context . That’s what I said. It’s on record what I said and I stand by it. It’s accurate.”

Lee added: “I made the point that there is a social contract in play and people in work are paying in tax so we have healthcare when we need it, which is in great measure when we are much older, and it’s essentially like a Ponzi scheme in which you pay in and get out.”

He denied suggesting that the NHS was about to collapse.

“Parties of all colours have supported the NHS and the Conservatives will continue to do so,” he told BI.

“My concern in that context was young people’s confidence in it collapsing.” 

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