A poll found that two thirds of the Conservative party's MPs back tax relief on private health insurance.
The poll of 150 MPs, carried out by ComRes for BMI Healthcare, a private hospital group, found that 66 per cent of Tories supported tax relief on standard rate income tax for private medical insurance. ComRes questioned a panel made up of 82 Labour MPs, 44 Conservatives, 20 Lib Dems and four from other parties between June 29 and July 30.
In contrast, just 1 per cent of Labour MPs and 5 per cent of the Liberal Democrats backed the idea.
More than half the Conservatives, 5 per cent, favoured the introduction of tax relief on private health care fees, compared to only 1 per cent of Labour MPs.
Two thirds of Conservatives, said that patients should be able to receive treatment part paid for by the NHS and part privately funded, as against 36 per cent of Lib Dems and 14 per cent of Labour MPs.
Views among the parties were however more mixed on the issue of the NHS funding the treatment of patients through private providers in order to bring down waiting times, with 77 per cent of Conservatives, 47 per cent of Labour, and 55 per cent of Lib Dem MPs in favour.
Chancellor Alistair Darling warned that the introduction of tax relief on private health care would damage the NHS - but was unable to explain how.