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Statement by education secretary Gillian Shephard: ...
Statement by education secretary Gillian Shephard:

'Whenever we hear Liberal Democrats talking about education, we usually hear just one thing, how - by throwing money indiscriminately at the system - standards will be expected to rise. Yet, when we view the Liberal Democrats actually in power, an entirely different story emerges.

'Instead of spending more money on education, Liberal councils actually spend less. For example, in Kingston upon Thames, the government allocated an extra£1.7m in their Standard Spending Assessment (SSA) for 1997-98. This represented an increase of almost four per cent on the 1996-97 figure.

'But despite the advice of the government, the Lib-Dem council has singularly failed to pass any of this increase on to schools. Instead they are playing games with children's futures by blaming this situation on Government cuts and indulging in anti-Conservative propaganda. This is sheer hypocrisy.

'Not only this, but in 1995, Conservative councils spent more per head per pupil than Liberal Democrat councils at both primary and secondary level. Even allowing for London weighting, the discrepancies are still very large. At primary level, Conservative councils spent£1,882 per pupil, the Liberals only£1,626 per pupil. And at secondary level, Conservative councils spent (pounds)2513 per pupil, the Liberals only£2,181 per pupil. So much for the importance of education for the Liberal Democrats.

'In contrast to this, we have increased the general education budget by nearly£1bn for 1997-98 and there has been a real terms increase of 48 per cent since 1979. Spending on books and equipment alone has risen by some 55 per cent.

'This only goes to show that you can't believe a word the Liberal Democrats say. You can only be sure with the Conservatives.'

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