Opening a Lords debate on the health service, Baroness Gardner of Parkes, a former dentist, said the Government should use its large Commons majority to introduce funding changes - perhaps even a new system.
She told peers: "This Government has a large majority and it should be brave enough to make the changes necessary to provide adequate funding to ensure a strong base for the NHS in the 21st century, either by charges or by a separate health tax or by moving to an entirely new basis for funding health care, such as the successful Australian system."
She suggested pounds 5 a visit would not seem unreasonable but Lady Gardner stressed: "My views differ from official Conservative Party policy."
Government sources claimed later: "The Tory front bench, the Tory back bench and Tory think-tanks are engaged in a barely hidden agenda to prepare the NHS for privatisation. The cat's out of the bag."Reuse content