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Industry and Education

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:08 pm on 21st November 1994.

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Photo of Mr James Pawsey Mr James Pawsey , Rugby and Kenilworth 7:08 pm, 21st November 1994

I wish to confine my remarks to education. I make it clear immediately that I am a parliamentary consultant to the Association of Teachers and Lecturers.

I have listened with interest to Opposition Members in recent weeks, but I have not been able to discover any blue water between their policies and ours; all I have found is a deep red sea. Labour Members have learnt nothing and forgotten nothing. For them, choice and diversity remain mere words without significance for the nation's children. They still appear to think that there is only one type of school—that only one type of school holds all the answers to all the needs of all the nation's children. They maintain their opposition to grant-maintained schools, to city technology colleges, to grammar schools and to the assisted-places scheme. I notice that Opposition Members are nodding in agreement. But those schools provide education for about 750,000 of the nation's children, and they are doing a great deal to provide essential diversity, choice, quality and improved standards.

The hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Kilfoyle)—I am sorry that he is not in his place—is now an Opposition Front-Bench spokesman, a position I trust he will hold for ever. He was quoted in The Times Educational Supplement as being "an unequivocal opponent" of grant-maintained schools. I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman; he clearly says what he means and means what he says. At least one knows where one stands with him, which is rather more than one can say for his right hon. Friend the Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Blair). Apparently, the right hon. Gentleman was considering sending his son to the London Oratory school, which—shock horror—is grant maintained.