First Day

Part of Debate on the Address – in the House of Commons at 4:03 pm on 6th May 1992.

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Photo of Mr Paddy Ashdown Mr Paddy Ashdown Leader of the Liberal Democrats 4:03 pm, 6th May 1992

Indeed, will the Government allow all schools to opt out? The latest information is that opting out is such a good idea that some people will be refused access to it—that some schools will not be allowed to opt out. If all schools are to be allowed grant-maintained status the Prime Minister must tell the House where the extra funding will come from. If that is not to be allowed, is it not true that the Prime Minister's "Opportunity Britain" will tolerate—indeed, will create—a two-tier education system? Those questions must be answered before we know about the progress of the Government's programme.

I fear for much in Britain under this Government. I fear for the cohesion of our social structure, and for the underfunded national health service. I fear that we shall not do what is necessary to put the economy really right in the long term. But most of all, I fear for our education system under this Government. I do not believe that the Government understand what education is about, or the vital importance of investing in education now, for the nation's future.