Building Schools for the Future

Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 14th November 2007.

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Photo of David Taylor David Taylor Labour, North West Leicestershire 11:30 am, 14th November 2007

What assessment he has made of the role of the private finance initiative in delivering the building schools for the future programme.

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Photo of Gordon Brown Gordon Brown The Prime Minister, Leader of the Labour Party

The selection of PFI as a procurement route for building schools for the future follows a detailed assessment using the Treasury's value-for-money guidance. Since 1997, 1,106 schools have been rebuilt or refurbished and £31 billion has been invested. Investment through PFI has delivered 275 of those rebuilt or refurbished schools—in other words, 25 per cent.

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Photo of David Taylor David Taylor Labour, North West Leicestershire

The building schools for the future programme is welcomed by all parties, but half of the eventual £50 billion cost is being financed by inflexible PFI schemes with exorbitant annual costs of more than £2,000 million for 25 years or more. Will my right hon. Friend explain why local authorities have to take, on behalf of schools, risks over which they have little control? What costs will fall on the taxpayer if PFI schools prove not to be sustainable and have to be closed prematurely?

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Photo of Gordon Brown Gordon Brown The Prime Minister, Leader of the Labour Party

I have to tell my hon. Friend that his area of Leicestershire has benefited from £60 million of investment in projects in education, health and other areas. It simply would not have been possible to build or refurbish such a number of schools and hospitals without using the PFI model. It is because of PFI and the additional public investment we are prepared to make that we can look forward to every secondary school being modernised or refurbished, and a programme has now been brought in for primary schools as well. Of course, that would not have happened if we had followed the policies of the Conservatives, who want to cut investment in education and health.

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Photo of Simon Burns Simon Burns Opposition Whip (Commons)

The Prime Minister has a justified reputation for striking fear into the hearts and minds of junior Ministers through his micro-control of everything that goes on in his Government and his control freakery. Why will he not answer the simple question asked by my right hon. Friend Mr. Cameron: when did he know about the problems in the Home Office?

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Photo of Gordon Brown Gordon Brown The Prime Minister, Leader of the Labour Party

This was a matter for the Home Secretary, who took all the action that was necessary, and she dealt with the problem in a calm, efficient and dignified way.

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