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Balls: use bank fines for NHS boost

Labour is calling for a billion pounds in bank fines to be handed to the NHS today as it seeks to move on from the damaging snobbery row.

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls is to say the latest scandal to engulf financial institutions presents an opportunity to do something for the "wider good".

The Government should use the money the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has demanded from five banks for manipulating currency exchanges to boost the health service, he will insist.

The intervention, in a speech to Labour's East of England regional conference in Ipswich, comes after Ed Miliband expressed fury over Emily Thornberry's apparent mocking of a family with three flags of St George draped over their home.

Mrs Thornberry apologised for causing offence by tweeting picture while campaigning for the Rochester and Strood by-election - which was won by Ukip - and resigned as shadow attorney general.

Writing in the Daily Mirror, Mr Miliband insisted Labour was "still the party of working people".

"We will always remain the party of working people," he said. "That is why I was furious at the tweet by Emily Thornberry which conveyed a sense of disrespect about a family in Rochester.

"Respect is the basic rule of politics and there is nothing unusual or odd about having England flags in your window."

In his address to the regional conference, Mr Balls will say: "This latest banking scandal shows why we still need big reform and cultural change in our banks. But the fines levied on banks for foreign exchange manipulation should now be used for a wider good.

"And I believe an immediate boost to our National Health Service, which is going backwards under the Tories, must be a priority.

"Because under David Cameron it's getting harder to see a GP, A&E is in crisis and waiting lists are going up again. Three billion pounds has been wasted on a top-down re-organisation while nurses and frontline staff have been lost. And cancer treatment targets have now been missed for three quarters in a row.

"So in next month's Autumn Statement George Osborne should use £1 billion of the fines from the banks for an immediate boost to our health service."

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