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Mr. Bercow: I am following the Minister's argument closely. Does he acknowledge that, when he says that the Conservatives are hostile to publicly funded and publicly provided services, he is being not only very immature but

17 Nov 1997 : Column 71

deeply insulting to those of us who have used, and have been proud to use, public services--including health and education--for years?

Mr. Byers: If the hon. Gentleman had represented an inner-city seat on Tyneside for the past five years under a Conservative Government, he would know only too well the destruction and the chaos that that Government inflicted upon essential public services. The Conservative Government believed that the market should determine essential public services. From our experience, that approach clearly fails our people and those essential public services.

We believe that there is such a thing as society. We want to see a society that is both strong and united, in which we marshal the power of society to advance and benefit the individuals within it--the power of all for the good of each. Efficient, accessible and accountable public services do precisely that. They harness the power of all for the good of each.

The previous Government--the Government of the hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow)--allowed dogma to triumph over reason, with services sacrificed on the altar of the market. It was an approach based on winners and losers. Let the position of this Government be clear. We reject a philosophy for essential public services, such as health, social services and education, that is based on the belief--the belief of the Conservative party--that some of our people must be losers for others to be winners. Our commitment is to ensure that all our people benefit from good public services.

Mr. Willis: I shall raise a point that has not come out in the debate, but first we welcome the Minister's comments about some of the values that we share.

One of the great issues, to which I would like a straight answer, is that much of the new money that the Minister claims is going into health and education is from reserves or the windfall tax. What will happen when that money runs out?

Mr. Byers: That was a very interesting intervention, because for the past two and a half hours we have heard from the Liberal Democrats that no new money will be made available to fund health and education. Now we hear the truth--there is new money. It is coming from the reserve in the short term. We are investing in education and health to build a future, so that the economic growth will eventually provide the wealth for our country and fund those essential public services. We are spending from the reserve to save for the future, and redirecting it into essential public services. That is exactly what we are seeking to do.

It is important, however, as we consider the future of public services, that we recognise that public services themselves must change. By definition, they exist to serve the public, but all too often they are seen to operate for the convenience of producer interests. Well, no more. The Government will defend, protect and support public services only where they are accountable to their public; where they provide a high-quality service and are committed to raising standards.

Although we share a principal support for public services with the Liberal Democrats, we do not understand how they would pay to put right the legacy of

17 Nov 1997 : Column 72

neglect. During the election, they told us that we needed an extra penny on income tax to spend £1.8 billion on education--or did they? The briefings that they put out during their party conference neither confirmed nor denied where they stand on this issue. It is unfortunate that the hon. Member for Gordon (Mr. Bruce), the Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman, is not in the Chamber--[Interruption.] I am sorry, he is here. I am grateful. He has just arrived in the debate. [Hon. Members: "No he has not."] The reason why it would be of interest to the Liberal Democrats is that, during their party conference, the spin doctors were spinning away about the Liberal Democrats' pledge to increase spending on education.

Mr. Malcolm Bruce (Gordon) rose--

Mr. Byers: I hope that the hon. Gentleman will use this opportunity to clarify the position for the House.

Mr. Bruce: Our position was unequivocal. We said that to fund education we would put a penny on income tax if necessary. We said that it was necessary and we made that commitment. We have not backtracked on it.

Mr. Byers: I am grateful for that very important condition. It is no longer a cast-iron commitment for a penny on income tax to fund the £1.8 billion. Instead the condition is "if necessary". We do not know what conditions will be attached or what criteria will need to be met, if necessary, to put that money into the education service.

The Government have already put more than £1.8 billion into the education service. The Budget introduced on 2 July by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer ensured that there was real money, in real terms, for education and health. The Government believe in spending when it is prudent to do so. We make no apology for that.

A central part of the Government's commitment to prudent spending is our comprehensive spending review: a root and branch review of public spending in all Government Departments, with a view to reordering our spending priorities. We will do precisely that. We are taking a fundamental look at Government spending from a zero base; starting from basics, asking whether the Government need to spend money in the way that we do. There may be other ways to meet public needs. If there is a case to continue any programme, we will aim to do so in the most efficient and cost-effective way.

In just six months we have begun to reorder our priorities. We have allocated £1.2 billion to the national health service; £1 billion to schools from the reserve next year for day-to-day education spending to employ more teachers, reduce class sizes, and update books and equipment. We expect more than £2 billion to be spent through the new deal on capital for schools. We have released a further £900 million under our capital receipts initiative. Spending on the police service will rise by 3.7 per cent. to £7.3 billion. That is not underfunding. It is a commitment to fund priority areas. It is targeting resources to help the most vulnerable: the sick, the unemployed, the young and the old. We will enable them to get the help that they need and deserve. We will ensure that the money is passed on to fund those essential public services. We will improve education standards in schools and the standards of schools.

17 Nov 1997 : Column 73

We are committed to reducing class sizes for five, six and seven-year-olds. One of the key pledges--we heard about key pledges from Liberal Democrat Members--in our election campaign was that, by the end of this Parliament, the class size for five, six and seven-year-olds would be reduced to 30 or fewer. I can tell the House that we shall begin to implement that pledge not in 2001, not in 2000 or 1999, but from the next school year. In September next year we will provide an additional £22 million to employ 1,000 extra teachers, all of whom will be used to reduce class sizes for five, six and seven-year-olds.

We will also invite local authorities to submit plans for capital spending under our new deal project for next year to carry out the necessary building alterations to deliver our class size reduction pledge. On the latest figures, nearly 500,000 infants are being taught in classes of more than 30. That is unacceptable. We must begin cutting class size as a matter of urgency. We will begin to do so from the next school year.

The Government are not complacent about the work that is still to be done. The neglect of two decades will not be put right over night. Service standards matter, and the Government will ensure that service standards are improved. The Government will put in place policies that will allow us to invest in education, social services and health, instead of having to pay the high costs of economic failure, criminal behaviour and social squalor. If we do not change course, we will have two classes of health service, two classes of state school, and, as a result, a fractured and divided country.

Under this Government there will be change. Public services have a crucial role to play in ensuring that we become a nation united, working together for the common good. In just six months, we have already begun the task of turning around 18 years of neglect. We shall rebuild our public services so that our people can once again take pride in them. Those public services will be efficient, accountable and accessible, and they will meet the needs of the many, not the few. That is why I commend to the House the amendment standing in the name of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister.

Question put, That the original words stand part of the Question:--

The House divided: Ayes 48, Noes 300.

Division No. 88
[6.59 pm


Allan, Richard
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy
Baker, Norman
Ballard, Mrs Jackie
Brake, Tom
Brand, Dr Peter
Breed, Colin
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)
Burnett, John
Burstow, Paul
Cable, Dr Vincent
Campbell, Menzies (NE Fife)
Chidgey, David
Cotter, Brian
Dafis, Cynog
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Ewing, Mrs Margaret
Fearn, Ronnie
Foster, Don (Bath)
George, Andrew (St Ives)
Hancock, Mike
Harris, Dr Evan
Harvey, Nick
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Keetch, Paul
Kennedy, Charles (Ross Skye)
Kirkwood, Archy
Llwyd, Elfyn
Maclennan, Rt Hon Robert
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)
Moore, Michael
Morgan, Alasdair (Galloway)
Öpik, Lembit
Rendel, David
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Salmond, Alex
Sanders, Adrian
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Stunell, Andrew
Swinney, John
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Tonge, Dr Jenny
Wallace, James
Webb, Steve
Wigley, Rt Hon Dafydd
Willis, Phil

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Paul Tyler and
Mr. Donald Gorrie.


Abbott, Ms Diane
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)
Allen, Graham
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)
Armstrong, Ms Hilary
Ashton, Joe
Atherton, Ms Candy
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Banks, Tony
Barnes, Harry
Barron, Kevin
Bayley, Hugh
Beard, Nigel
Begg, Miss Anne
Bell, Stuart (Middlesbrough)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony
Bennett, Andrew F
Benton, Joe
Bermingham, Gerald
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Boateng, Paul
Borrow, David
Bradley, Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Brinton, Mrs Helen
Brown, Rt Hon Nick (Newcastle E)
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Browne, Desmond
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Butler, Mrs Christine
Byers, Stephen
Caborn, Richard
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Campbell-Savours, Dale
Canavan, Dennis
Cann, Jamie
Caplin, Ivor
Caton, Martin
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chaytor, David
Chisholm, Malcolm
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)
Clark, Dr Lynda
(Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)
Clwyd, Ann
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Coleman, Iain
Colman, Tony
Connarty, Michael
Cooper, Yvette
Corbett, Robin
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cousins, Jim
Cox, Tom
Cranston, Ross
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Cummings, John
Cunliffe, Lawrence
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Darling, Rt Hon Alistair
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Davidson, Ian
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Rt Hon Ron (Caerphilly)
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Denham, John
Dobson, Rt Hon Frank
Doran, Frank
Drew, David
Drown, Ms Julia
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Etherington, Bill
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Fitzsimons, Lorna
Flint, Caroline
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Foulkes, George
Fyfe, Maria
Galloway, George
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
George, Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Godman, Norman A
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Golding, Mrs Llin
Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Grant, Bernie
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grocott, Bruce
Grogan, John
Hain, Peter
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Hanson, David
Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hesford, Stephen
Hill, Keith
Hinchliffe, David
Hoey, Kate
Home Robertson, John
Hood, Jimmy
Hoon, Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Howells, Dr Kim
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hutton, John
Illsley, Eric
Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Johnson, Miss Melanie
(Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Jones, Mrs Fiona (Newark)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jowell, Ms Tessa
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)
Kelly, Ms Ruth
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green)
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Linton, Martin
Lock, David
Love, Andrew
McAllion, John
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCafferty, Ms Chris
McDonnell, John
McFall, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKenna, Mrs Rosemary
Mackinlay, Andrew
MacShane, Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mandelson, Peter
Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Martlew, Eric
Maxton, John
Meacher, Rt Hon Michael
Meale, Alan
Merron, Gillian
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Milburn, Alan
Mitchell, Austin
Moffatt, Laura
Moonie, Dr Lewis
Moran, Ms Margaret
Morris, Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Morris, Rt Hon John (Aberavon)
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
Olner, Bill
O'Neill, Martin
Organ, Mrs Diana
Osborne, Ms Sandra
Pearson, Ian
Pendry, Tom
Pike, Peter L
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pond, Chris
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Prescott, Rt Hon John
Primarolo, Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Quin, Ms Joyce
Radice, Giles
Rammell, Bill
Rapson, Syd
Raynsford, Nick
Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)
Reid, Dr John (Hamilton N)
Robinson, Geoffrey (Cov'try NW)
Rooker, Jeff
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Rowlands, Ted
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Ms Joan
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Ryan, Ms Joan
Salter, Martin
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Shipley, Ms Debra
Short, Rt Hon Clare
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Singh, Marsha
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Miss Geraldine
(Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Soley, Clive
Squire, Ms Rachel
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stevenson, George
Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr Howard
Stott, Roger
Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin
Straw, Rt Hon Jack
Stringer, Graham
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mark
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Desmond (Kemptown)
Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Vis, Dr Rudi
Ward, Ms Claire
Wareing, Robert N
Watts, David
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Wills, Michael
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wise, Audrey
Woolas, Phil
Wray, James
Wright, Dr Tony (Cannock)

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Greg Pope and
Mr. David Clelland.

Question accordingly negatived.

17 Nov 1997 : Column 76

Question, That the proposed words be there added, put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 31 (Questions on amendments):--

The House divided: Ayes 298, Noes 43.

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