Orders of the Day — Budget Resolutions and Economic Situation

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:20 pm on 7th July 1997.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Stephen Dorrell Stephen Dorrell Shadow Secretary of State for Education 5:20 pm, 7th July 1997

I am relying on my experience. The purpose of my intervention last week was to discover whether the Government intend to ensure that this money actually gets to schools, or whether they are relying on a system that I know fairly well, as the hon. Gentleman implied. The truth is that the Government are putting the money into local authorities and hoping that some of it will get through to schools. I am sure that some of it will, but I am certain that £835 million of it will not.

The Secretary of State for Health must be hoping that the education committees will not get all of the money that is going to county councils; otherwise it would be bad news for the national health service. It would mean that social service departments would not be able to deal with the increasing demands placed on them. It would also mean that no account has been taken of the extra demands of the police and fire services and the other elements of local authority services.

The headline increases in health and education are welcome. The 2.25 per cent. increase for health is welcome, and if we keep going long enough, we may get the figure up to the 3 per cent. that we scored over 18 years. The yardstick is a 3 per cent. real-terms average. Furthermore, that is the expectation in the national health service, as the Secretary of State well knows. A real-terms growth of 3 per cent. was achieved between 1979 and 1997. We look forward to the words of support for the national health service that Ministers like to use being backed up by action that reflects our record during 18 years in office.