He made his statement when asked that if he and the Conservatives, who had been in government for 18 years, took credit for successful education reforms and the 15% of children who did well at school, should he not accept responsibility for those did not and were failures by international standards.
Mr Major declared: 'The direct responsibility for education lies with the education authorities and the education authorities predominantly for most of that period, in the areas where children have failed, were consistently run by the Labour party: Hackney, Islington - places like that.
'That is the worst 20 education authorities without exception are traditional Labour-run authorities and have been for many years. One of them, I think, is now a Lib-Lab coalition, but traditionally they have been Labour authorities running appalling education systems. Now if there is a criticism of the Conservative government it is perhaps we did not take powers away from them earlier.
'So if there is a responsibility, it is a shared responsibility. Perhaps we should have acted earlier against failing education authorities, but the failing education authorities....are long-standing Labour education authorities and they have failed not just one generation of children but generations of them'.