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Clause 1

Part of Education and Skills Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 1:00 pm on 31st January 2008.

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Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Shadow Minister (14-19 Reform and Apprenticeships) 1:00 pm, 31st January 2008

I am not a liberal in any sense. I must not digress too much, but I have been asked a direct question and I will give a direct answer. As a student of these matters, the hon. Gentleman knows that the great philosophical clash is between a conservative and a liberal perspective. That has been the great clash of ideas through the 18th, 19th and the last century. We could debate the essence of that difference at great length—although we should not do so now—as it lies at the heart of the political tension that has driven public policy and this place for 300 years. We could, and no doubt will, talk about aspects of that in relation to the Bill, because a debate is to be had about the balance between obligation and liberty and the proper tension between freedom and duty. It is good to have  that debate in connection with this legislation because it is rare that a Bill is introduced that embodies the essence of that tension.