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When proposing this debate to the Backbench Business Committee on 16 January 2018, the Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP said the following:

Hospital car parking charges have become an ever-increasing issue for patients and visitors to hospitals and their relatives right across the United Kingdom. The Daily Mirror did a big campaign on this over Christmas, and it is something I have been arguing about for some time. It would cost roughly £200 million to scrap the charges. Many charities are supportive of the campaign to scrap hospital car parking charges, including CLIC Sargent, which is a child cancer charity, other charities and the RAC as well, which sent in its support.

I did a ten-minute rule Bill on this only a few weeks ago. I am very fortunate that the campaign has received cross-party backing. We are very lucky to have my hon. Friend—I say hon. Friend; she is a friend—Emma Hardy, who is sitting next to me, and other senior MPs. We have Ed Davey from the Liberal Democrats and Frank Field from the Labour party as well. I have Conservative colleagues, Lucy Allan and Martin Vickers, with me today. There is considerable support from all sides of the House for a proper debate on this issue, to try to get the Government to look at the issue.

We want to scrap hospital car parking charges for patients, visitors and, particularly, the staff, because it is very unjust that many staff who work in the public sector, such as police officers or teachers, don’t pay for car parking, yet we penalise hard-working public sector workers who work in the NHS.

Trusts and foundation trusts in England are permitted to charge for car parking and to raise revenue from it as long as certain rules are followed: income generation activities must not interfere to a significant degree with the provision of NHS core services, they must be profitable, and this profit must be used to improve health services.

Different approaches have been taken in the other parts of the UK, however.  In 2008, Scotland and Wales both introduced free parking at NHS hospitals, although some Scottish and Welsh hospitals still charge for parking due to external contractual agreements. In Northern Ireland, decisions on car parking charges are decided individually by Health and Social Care trusts, although there is also national eligibility criteria for free parking, such as for cancer and renal dialysis patients.

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