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Amendment of the Law

Part of Budget Resolutions and Economic Situation – in the House of Commons at 8:42 pm on 21st March 2000.

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Photo of David Chaytor David Chaytor Labour, Bury North 8:42 pm, 21st March 2000

The hon. Gentleman raises an interesting point. However, if a party makes a commitment in an election manifesto not to raise income tax rates, it should adhere to it. When we come to the next general election, I think that the electorate will be pleased that it has had a Government for four or five years who have stood by their commitments on tax, in contrast with the previous regime.

I shall refer briefly to three issues. First, my local authority is one of the most successful in the country in terms of organisational efficiency and support for schools—which was recognised in the recent Ofsted inspection. That applies also to the results delivered by both primary and secondary schools in the area. Bury's primary and secondary schools deliver astonishingly good results on the basis of a meagre level of resource. They will be delighted to learn of the 300 per cent. improvement in the books and equipment allocation to primary schools and of the new £30,000 allocation to secondary schools.

I am delighted that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor has started to make direct allocations to schools. One of the remaining problems in funding education is not that the overall increase is too small but that the method of distribution through the standard spending assessment system remains grossly unfair. Despite Bury being in the top 10 per cent. in terms of examination results at various primary and secondary schools, it is in the bottom 20 per cent. in terms of funding. On all the socio-economic indicators, it should be somewhere in the middle. Following the announcements of my right hon. Friend and those of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Employment, we are seeing direct net cash allocations to schools to compensate to some extent for the deficiencies in the SSA system.