Orders of the Day — Education and Industry

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:54 am on 8th December 2000.

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Photo of Phil Willis Phil Willis Shadow Spokesperson (Education) 10:54 am, 8th December 2000

I rise from our packed Benches to respond on the third day of debate on the Queen's Speech. I apologise for missing part of the speech of the hon. Member for Ochil (Mr. O'Neill), but I agreed with a great deal of what I heard him say, with the exception of his final comment about the modesty of the Queen's Speech. I do not think that anyone could describe it as much more than that.

I have a sense of disappointment. When I came to the House in early May 1997, stood at the Bar of the other place and listened to the programme that outlined the first term of the new Labour Government and contained their aspirations for Parliament, there was a great sense of pride at being part of that. However, when I stood at the Bar this year, there was a sense that there was much that had not been achieved. Indeed, the vision and ambition had virtually gone. The crisis in our public services is not just about the recruitment of teachers, but concerns the recruitment of all public sector workers, including those in our hospitals, in the police and even in London Transport, which suffers from a dearth of people wanting to fill necessary jobs. Urban decay is still evident across the country, and I see it as I move about looking at schools and colleges in different areas. There is a growing divide between urban and rural areas, and the north-south divide has become starker during the Government's period in office. There has been a resurgence of racial and ethnic intolerance, shamefully fuelled by the Conservative party over the past 18 months.