Children, Schools and Families Bill

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 4:18 pm on 11th January 2010.

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Photo of Edward Balls Edward Balls Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families 4:18 pm, 11th January 2010

My hon. Friend is completely right. That is the difference. Do we have a market-based mechanism, with some schools withering on the vine while others expand, or do we drive school improvement by the measures in the Bill? It contains clear guarantees to parents and pupils, a decent licence to practise so that professional standards are maintained, and more power and independence for head teachers to drive up standards in their schools, backed by the active support of parents in home-school agreements. That is what we have set out in the Bill.

It will not be possible to deliver the guarantees and reforms in the Bill unless the money is available to pay for them. I made it clear in response to interventions at the beginning of my speech that with me, school spending would rise this year, next year and the year after, but that with the Opposition, it would be cut next year, the year after and the year after that. As the shadow Chancellor has made clear, their priority is not school spending or one-to-one catch-up support but an inheritance tax cut for 3,000 of the richest millionaires. That is the choice. Our vision in the Bill is a world-class education system with excellence and opportunity for all, not just some. That is the choice, and that is what the Bill guarantees, and I commend the Bill to the House.

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