It is a great honour to be asked to speak in support of the Gracious Speech this afternoon. As Ed Balls will know, there are few greater honours and few more daunting invitations than being asked to lead the Government Department responsible for the country's schools. I am grateful beyond words for the chance to serve my country in this job.
I am grateful also to have a team alongside me that is distinguished and dedicated to ensuring that every child has a better start in life. I am grateful that my hon. Friends the Members for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton (Mr Gibb), for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton) and for Brent Central (Sarah Teather) have agreed to serve in this partnership Government. I look forward to working with them in the years ahead.
This Gracious Speech contains two education Bills. Those measures will grant more freedom to teachers, give more choice to parents, reduce bureaucracy for all schools and provide additional help for the weakest. They will ensure that standards rise for all children and will specifically target resources on the most disadvantaged, so that we narrow the gap between the rich and the poor.