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Mr. Phil Willis (Harrogate and Knaresborough): The Liberal Democrats certainly appreciate the achievements of

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schools, teachers and children as shown in the results published yesterday. Does the Secretary of State agree that the league tables do not show the immense commitment and hard work involved in getting a child to achieve level 3? That work is not recognised, nor are those children who achieve levels 5, 6 or above. Is not it time to make those tables much more sophisticated to recognise the achievements of all our children, not just some?

Mr. Blunkett: I want us to be able to celebrate locally and nationally the progress that has been made, the added value that is provided from a child first entering the school system or a particular key stage, and the support provided and work done to increase the standards of education and achievement. I accept entirely that that is a necessary objective.

From next year, we shall engage in the development across the country of value-added tables, which will be set alongside the information that must be made public under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, which received Royal Assent a week or so ago. Those value-added tables will be set in the context of the achievements of children who have often struggled against the odds. We hope to have that in place in secondary education from 2002 and in primary education from 2003. We have to include a whole cohort, which is why that has taken longer than I would have wished.

In sadness, rather than anger, I wish that in celebrating what the pupils have done and the excellent work of teachers, the hon. Member for Harrogate and Knaresborough (Mr. Willis) would reconsider praying against the order that allows local authorities to pay the uplift as teachers reach the standard and go on to the new pay scales, which involves £2,000. Cities such as Bradford, for example, which is not under Labour control but is run by the Conservatives, were about to set in train the process of paying their teachers who pass the threshold, but they will now not do so because they are worried that the Liberal Democrats might carry the majority in the House and stop teachers being able to receive the uplift. Authorities should be able to get on with the necessary administration.

Mr. Willis: I admire the Secretary of State's confidence that the Liberal Democrats will carry the country at the next election. He should recognise that the serious issue--the courts certainly made him recognise it--is that the House requires an opportunity to debate matters of substance. Introducing performance-related promotion, which has now become performance-related pay, is a major issue, and the House deserves the opportunity to debate it. The Liberal Democrats have performed a service to the teaching profession in allowing the Secretary of State to explain his position and hon. Members on both sides to have an input to the debate.

Mr. Blunkett: I think that that claim will prove to be as spurious as the National Union of Teacher's claim that teachers wanted them to stop the payments and the programme being put in place. It behoves the Liberal Democrats to tell teachers that any delay in paying them the money is entirely down to them. I am happy to debate that in the House, but I hope that the Liberal Democrats will not be foolish enough to vote against it. I did not say that the Liberal Democrats would carry the House, but the Conservatives in Bradford fear that they might. We shall see what happens in due course.

From the Schools Standards and Framework Act 1998 and the measures that we have introduced under it, the Teaching and Higher Education Act 1998, and the

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introduction of a teacher training curriculum for the primary sector for the first time, to the Learning and Skills Act 2000, we have taken the necessary steps to raise standards and to ensure that we can tackle the deficit that exists. Under legislation that we put in place as early as July 1997, we have been able to take action to reduce class sizes. Two and a half years ago, 485,000 youngsters were in classes of more than 30 infants; there are now only 30,000. That represents the first reduction for 10 years in 7 to 11-year-olds in classes of more than 30. We have seen the changes coming through. We have joined with colleagues in other Departments on early-years and day-care provision, which has been strengthened with quality measures being put in place. We have seen the success of our welfare-to-work measures in practice through the new deal and through the work of the Employment Service and its partners across the board. Employment zones are working. They were put in place only in April, and I pay tribute to those who have moved so swiftly to achieve what they have.

I shall say a few words about the importance of a deal. It is one thing to say to people that we will withdraw their benefits if they do not get a job, and another to say, "This is something for something and if we play our part we expect you to play yours." That is responsibility and obligation going side by side. Yes, there are rights, but there is a duty to take up opportunity.

The deal is simple. We shall play our part as a Government and resource education, training and the personal adviser system. We shall help in ensuring that individuals get over the past trauma of unemployment, or even of under-achievement and social or educational disadvantage, but we expect opportunity to be taken up. That is different from the approach of Opposition Members, whose programme involves withdrawing that support. For example, under the Tories the new deal for lone parents would mean that those with children over 11 would simply be told to get a job. Their scheme would not offer the guidance and support that we are now putting in place, nor would it for the other new deal programmes.

America Works is the programme that the Opposition intend to introduce in place of our new deal programmes. It is a small programme that operates from New York. The figures that the Opposition have given in terms of their savings of £419 million towards their tax-cut programme are made up in an interesting way. Overall, the programme amounts to £5.3 billion, but they still have £2.7 billion to find to meet their target. Given that we may have the time available, I shall address the issue of £419 million.

First, the Opposition have taken the legitimate figures for 1999-2000 and applied them to 2000-01. They have then deducted the 1999 sums from the 2000 sums and added them up to show a saving, without updating the figures. Secondly, and remarkably, they have failed to understand that if they criticise a Government on the basis that a percentage of young people who get a job do not sustain it for more than 13 weeks, they cannot build that calculation of the removal of youngsters from jobs--flexibility does exist--into the cash figures and then criticise the Government again.

The Opposition have their £3,000 a job investment programme. For the record, it is £1,500 for those companies that do not get a youngster to stay in a job. They have averaged the programme at £2,700. They had to do so because they have taken the figures across the board, including those who keep a job and those who do not. For the record, and for the public who may at some point read Hansard, I shall explain what their America Works system means. It involves giving a private company £3,000 if

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someone is sustained in a job for more than 13 weeks. The education and training programme and the personal adviser service are withdrawn. Only £1,500 is paid if someone gets a job but does not keep it. If an average is taken, we get the Conservatives' figures. If that is done, they accept the percentage and therefore the proportion within the labour market, which we do not control and where flexibility is inevitable in a modern economy, or what might be described as the new economy.

Thirdly, the Conservatives presume that the administrative costs will be borne by private companies. On that basis, they withdraw £115 million from the Employment Service budget. The trouble is that they have double counted. Our figures, against which they have judged their own for savings purposes, include the costs of administration. If we count the Opposition's figures against ours and include administration costs, which are included in our figures, and then transfer administration to the private sector and pay companies for administering the Conservative system as well as for getting an unemployed man or woman into a job, we find that the figures have been counted twice. The whole thing is a charade.

Mrs. Theresa May (Maidenhead): I suggest that, after that four-minute attempt to understand our figures, the Secretary of State needs a numeracy hour to help him understand them. He appears to be saying that he is quite happy for young people to go into jobs that are not sustained. Does he accept that the National Institute of Economic and Social Research figures show that the new deal has found jobs for only 13,000 young people?

Mr. Blunkett: First, the NIESR figures were based on the opening phase of the new deal programme. Secondly, I do not accept that only 13,000 youngsters have been found a job because of the new deal. Of course, that has nothing to do with discrediting the figures that I have read out or the calculations on which they were based. I think that back to the drawing board would be the order of the day.

The same applies to the Opposition's education--

Mr. Graham Brady (Altrincham and Sale, West): The right hon. Gentleman's approach is fascinating. He appears to criticise the Opposition's concentration on a model that works in New York in a way that gives inspiration in showing us how we could do better than the new deal. What contacts have the right hon. Gentleman and his Department had with the Wildcat Corporation in New York, and what lessons does he think could be drawn from what is being done so much better in America than in the United Kingdom?

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