Debate on the Address

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:01 pm on 6th December 2000.

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Photo of William Hague William Hague Leader of Her Majesty's Official Opposition, Leader of the Conservative Party 3:01 pm, 6th December 2000

The only ones who are making people pay are the incompetent managers in today's health service. I have met people in recent months who are waiting for a heart bypass, who cannot obtain one within a reasonable time on the national health service and who feel that they must pay £10,000 to have the operation privately. They cannot get one from the health service under the Labour Government. That is making people pay for their operations, and it happens more today under this Prime Minister than under any other Prime Minister who has presided over the national health service.

It is all spin and no delivery on education, too. Secondary school class sizes have risen. Government interference and paperwork are driving teachers out of the profession. Instead of setting schools free to raise standards, the Education Secretary has tried to micro-manage every classroom from Whitehall. The result is that there is now a teacher crisis in our schools: 2,000 are leaving the profession every year, and there could be 30,000 teaching vacancies within five years.

"Education, education, education" was the mantra at the previous election. Four years later, our schools are facing a four-day week and the teaching profession is in crisis. A legislative programme that was serious would set schools free from bureaucratic control, put the money directly into the classroom, give choice to parents, end the vindictive campaign against grammar schools and allow new partner schools to be created.

It is all spin and no delivery on transport, as well. [Interruption.]