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Part of Opposition Day — [20th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 7:53 pm on 13th September 2011.

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Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education) 7:53 pm, 13th September 2011

I am delighted to be able to respond to Andy Burnham.

I had thought that this might be a policy area where the differences between us were slight enough that he would not feel the need to overstate his case. Alas, that hope has been dashed. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State would have liked to respond to the right hon. Gentleman but, as I mentioned earlier, he is in Nottingham meeting 100 head teachers to discuss the future teaching schools. I hasten to add that 100 people is more than the number of Labour Members in the Chamber right now, and this is an Opposition day debate. The Minister for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning would also have liked to have responded to the right hon. Gentleman, but he has just undergone minor surgery and is recovering in hospital. He sends his best wishes and wanted me to pass on his apologies to the House for the fact that a lesser orator than he is responding.

It is hard to listen to the right hon. Gentleman when he clamours for £200 million here and £200 million there, given that he was in the Cabinet of a Government who left this country with the largest budget deficit in the G7 and interest payments of £120 million a day, leaving the country on the brink of financial collapse. That is why we have had to take some very difficult decisions. Until Opposition spokesmen acknowledge that point, nothing they say on public spending will have any credibility.