Harman's intervention has successfully clarified the government's position.
Leader of the House Sir George Young yesterday confirmed the cancer guarantee was a jolly good target, and so would stay:
Sir George replied: "The revision to the NHS Operating Framework in June removed targets on the NHS which were without clinical justification.
"The cancer waiting time targets are clinically justified and have been retained," he said.
Francis Maude repeated this on Question Time.
It is important that we are all clear about this important policy and political distinction about the role which targets will play in the future: the Coalition is in favour of health targets which are justified on health grounds.
However, those who propose health targets for totally spurious and non-health related reasons must now expect to be disappointed.
And it is important that the distinction is very clear - for it lies at the heart of the government's Structural Reform Plans - "the key tool for making departments accountable" for delivering reforms agreed by the PM, deputy PM and their top teams of Coalition negotiators.
But please do not even think of saying that they sound like targets, for nothing could be further from the truth:
Structural Reform Plans are the key tool of the Coalition Government for making departments accountable for the implementation of the reforms set out in the Coalition Agreement. They replace the old, top-down systems of targets and centralmicromanagement.
The reforms set out in each department’s SRP are designed to turn government on itshead, taking power away from Whitehall and putting it into the hands of people andcommunities. Once these reforms are in place, people themselves will have the powerto improve our country and our public services, through the mechanisms of localdemocratic accountability, competition, choice, and social action
So no more bad targets; only good ones.