It appears that the UUP's confusion over health spending has now infected its water charges policy. UUP Deputy leader, John McCallister, on the Nolan show backed the introduction of water charges as a means to boost health spending. He highlighted a UUP 2007 manifesto pledge for a £100 water charge (if Direct Rule had implemented water charges by the time devolution was restored):
"• Capping the Direct Rule Administration’s introduction of water charges at a maximum of £100 – prohibiting any rises while the Assembly and Executive devise a fairer, more sustainable alternative."
Leaving aside the manifesto pledge being conditional on them already being introduced and presented as a temporary measure, the recent policy paper of the UUP was more circumspect on the issue:
to be introduced the most vulnerable in society must be protected, any charges must be phased in over a period of years and all revenue must be hypothecated to frontline health and education services."
Meanwhile John McCallister's comments led to UUP Councillor Ronnie Crawford to call for his Deputy Leader to be:
"sacked or hanged"