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Identification and Support of Carers (Primary Health Care)

Barbara Keeley accordingly presented a Bill to require that general practitioners or Primary Health Care teams identify certain patients who are carers or who have a carer; to require identified carers to be referred to sources of advocacy, help and support; to require that carers' needs are taken into account in relation to the allocation of appointments, procedures for issuing prescriptions, and waiting room arrangements; to make provision for routinely checking the physical and emotional health of carers; and for connected purposes: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time on Friday 14 July, and to be printed [Bill 154].

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Orders of the Day


Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Question [22 March].


Motion made, and Question proposed,

      (a)   for zero-rating or exempting a supply, acquisition or importation;

      (b)   for refunding an amount of tax;

      (c)   for any relief, other than a relief that—

      (i)   so far as it is applicable to goods, applies to goods of every description, and

      (ii)   so far as it is applicable to services, applies to services of every description—[Mr. Gordon Brown.]

Question again proposed.

Budget Resolutions and Economic Situation

5.49 pm

The Secretary of State for Education and Skills (Ruth Kelly): Today, we debate the central theme of this Labour Government's 10th Budget: education—our No. 1 priority. Our vision is for a nation that is both economically successful and socially just, where everyone has the opportunity to fulfil their potential, no matter who they are or where they come from. Education is central to that vision. It has the potential to transform our lives, individually and collectively. It is a powerful force for both economic success and social mobility, which is why Labour values it so highly and debates it so passionately.

In last week's Budget, we had to make a choice—we could invest in our children, schools and young people or we could put tax cuts before the needs of our young people. We chose to invest in the future and in our economy, leaving the Opposition to make the case for the old Tory politics of cutting public services to pay for tax cuts. The prosperity of our nation requires a Government who are not only strong enough to take the difficult decisions for today, but who have the vision and determination to take the essential decisions needed for    tomorrow. Since taking office in 1997, this Government have never failed to meet that challenge, making the case for reform in our education system where it was needed, but also backing that reform with investment.

The priority of this Labour Government is to pursue our vision, in which an outstanding education will be the right not only of a few pupils who have opted out of the state system or whose parents benefited from a good start in life, but of every single child—100 per cent. of our children will be valued highly; 100 per cent. will be fully equipped for the challenges of the future. Because we want every child to have the chance to succeed, schools were at
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the heart of last week's Budget. The Government have already raised standards in primary and secondary education. There has been unprecedented capital investment since 1997. There are 30,000 more teachers and more than 130,000 more support staff in our schools, and there have been year-on-year improvements in results at ages 11 and 14 and at GSCE. Where only 45 per cent. of pupils got five good GCSEs in 1997, 56 per cent. achieved that level in 2005.

The Education and Inspections Bill currently before the House takes that transformation of schools further still. Schools will be able to take the decisions that they need to raise standards and will be free to form relationships with external partners, such as business foundations, further education colleges and universities, charities and other schools, where that will help them to drive up standards. For the first time ever in our nation's history, we are introducing a new right for all young people to a high quality vocational route from the age of 14.

The Budget heralds more major investment for our schools. We have already doubled the money that we spend on each pupil each year from £2,500 in 1997 to £5,000 today, but we know that, in the independent sector, average spending on each pupil is still £8,000 each year. As the Chancellor has made clear, our long-term aim will be to close the gap between spending on private school pupils and those in state schools. We want all pupils to benefit from the investment and support now available to only some of them. In particular, as a first step the Budget includes capital investment in school buildings and information and communications technology, which will increase by £1.6 billion to a total of more than £8 billion by 2010–11. That will close the historical gap in capital investment between state schools and independent schools so that all our young people can benefit from world-class educational facilities.

John Bercow (Buckingham) (Con): The right hon. Lady said a moment ago that the Government have committed themselves—true enough, they have—to a right to a vocational education, including, therefore, a commitment to access the specialised diplomas that will form its essence. Why are the Government not prepared similarly to commit to the funding of personalised learning?

Ruth Kelly: The hon. Gentleman makes an extremely good point. I want to come on to personalisation, because it is at the heart of our education reforms. The Budget commits the Government to spending £220 million next year, followed by £365 million the following year direct to every head teacher to help to provide tailored teaching and learning in and out of the classroom.

Michael Connarty (Linlithgow and East Falkirk) (Lab): My right hon. Friend is moving on to an interesting topic, but I want to return to the previous topic of capital investment. Has she analysed the distortion caused by forcing local authorities to have academies? On at least two occasions, I have heard my colleagues say that their local authority has been told that if it will not have an academy, its capital investment programme will be put back by two or three years.
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Ruth Kelly: I would be glad if my hon. Friend provided the evidence for that. I would be happy to look at it. The Government's commitment is to raising standards. When a local education authority has a plan that will clearly raise standards, particularly in underperforming or failing schools, the Government welcome that. When it does not, an academy may be the option—when there is persistent educational inequality and disadvantage, which sometimes will have existed for generations.

Mr. David Chaytor (Bury, North) (Lab): On the previous point about matching the funding in state schools to that which currently applies in private schools, will my right hon. Friend indicate the time over which that objective could be achieved? Does she think that it can be achieved entirely out of general taxation?

Ruth Kelly: As usual, my hon. Friend makes a salient point. I have just laid before the House detailed, concrete commitments on capital investment, which, as a first step, will help to close the gap—and, in fact, close it—between private sector capital investment spending today and our ambition for capital spending on state schools. Clearly, there are also revenue implications. As he knows, we do not, in general, set out our revenue plans beyond the period of the comprehensive spending review, but we have given a commitment for the next two years to invest heavily in personalised education, out of general taxation, so that every child can benefit from more catch-up support, more individual teaching, more small group and one-to-one support—particularly for those falling behind—and additional activities for the most able. I am talking about personalised provision, with pupils from the most disadvantaged backgrounds as the first priority. Combined with the investment already allocated in last autumn's schools White Paper, we have now given a total of £1 billion to support that approach to individual teaching and learning.

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