My hon. Friend is right. It constitutes a triumph of ideology over practicality.
Let me quote what has been said by two of the people in my borough who know what they are talking about. The head of the borough’s schools forum, who is also the principal of one of our excellent local secondary schools, has said:
budgets are cut, at a time when costs are increasingly significantly, it can only have a negative effect on the education that we are able to deliver.
We will not be able to employ the number of high quality teachers and leaders that we need to be able to maintain standards.”
The council cabinet member responsible for these matters has said:
“It’s clear that the government is trying to redistribute a pot of funding that is just too small. Cutting funding hardest in London, rather than giving all schools the money they need for teachers, buildings and equipment, is divisive and just plain wrong.”
That is absolutely right. According to the National Audit Office, there are extra cost pressures amounting to £2 billion across the country, but London is far and away the worst affected region. It contains eight of the 10 biggest losers in the country, which are in most boroughs and most constituencies—although not in every one: I know that the constituency of the Minister for London is the 12th biggest gainer. I find that particularly objectionable because London is a success story, and success is being punished.
From the London Challenge to the London Schools Excellence Fund, ever since the days of the Inner London Education Authority, we have prized education, particularly for people from deprived parts of London. We see it as an opportunity. It is a shame that a London Member, the Secretary of State, is overseeing this denuding of resources from London schools.