Caroline Flint – Speech to 2013 Labour Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Caroline Flint to the 2013 Labour Party Conference in Brighton.

Conference,

Margaret is 88.

Lives on her own.

Hard of hearing and finds it difficult having conversations on the phone.

In five months, her monthly electricity bill jumped from £45 to £67.

She couldn’t afford the new payments, so a debt built up.

Her energy company wanted it to be repaid in full.

Margaret has never been in debt before.

Frightened – she turned her heating off.

Embarrassed that her flat was too cold, Margaret stopped inviting friends over too.

Nicola is 32.

She’s a mum, with two kids.

Both her and her husband work.

But after a few cold winters, the gap between what Nicola could afford and her bills left her in debt, too.

Now, she’s worried about what will happen if prices rise again this winter.

David Cameron and George Osborne say the economy is fixed but for people like Margaret and Nicola, things are getting harder, not easier.

They’re at least now getting some help from the National Energy Action charity.

But millions more face the same problems and worse.

Unfolding day-by-day in kitchens and living rooms, in every town and every village – North, South, East and West, is a cost of living crisis.

Of course, the worst off are the hardest hit.

But everyone’s living standards are under attack.

People who always thought themselves “comfortable”, now feel under pressure.

Now, the slightest misfortune – a broken boiler, a faulty fridge, or another inflation-busting rise in their energy bills, can mean real hardship.

So if ever there was a time for action over energy prices it is now.

But what is this Government doing?

Have they taken our advice over the last year?

Will they put all those over 75 on the cheapest tariff this winter?

Did they sit up and listen when we revealed that energy companies have seen their profits soar while ordinary people’s bills have rocketed?

No, support for people struggling to pay their bills has been cut in half.

The Prime Minister promised that energy companies will have to give their customers the cheapest tariff.

A year later, four out of five people still on the wrong deal, paying more than they need to.

And what about the big promise to insulate homes and save us all money? The Green Deal.

It was meant to be the biggest home improvement programme since World War Two.

Ministers said they’d be having sleepless nights if 10,000 people hadn’t signed up by this Christmas.

They’ve spent £16 million promoting this scheme so far.

But just 12 households have had any work done.

£16 million for 12 homes.

Only nine thousand nine hundred and eighty eight to go. They won’t be getting much shut eye this year.

This Government, complacent over soaring bills.

Indifferent to people’s struggles.

Always standing up for the wrong people.

It doesn’t have to be like this…

Imagine if a certain beer company was your energy supplier?

You know who I mean.

They’d ring up one day and say “the wholesale price has fallen, so we’re going to cut your bill today”.

A few weeks later, they’d ring you again “we’re really sorry you’ve overpaid us, we’re refunding the money today”.

They’d ring you up a few weeks after that and say “we’ve got to own up, we’re not the cheapest supplier to you, so we’re cutting your tariff today to make sure we are.”

Conference, we’d all raise a glass to that.

But it’s not like that is it?

Half a dozen companies, squeezing out competition, setting prices in secret, and never telling you if you’re getting a rotten deal.

Prices rising year after year, followed by record-breaking profits.

Conference, it’s not right.

We all joined the Labour Party to fight injustice

And this is one injustice Ed Miliband and I won’t stand for.

Now is the time for politicians that are bold enough to argue for big changes in our energy market.

Today, I promise with a Labour Government the most radical, comprehensive reforms since energy privatisation.

No more price setting in secret.

The energy companies will be forced to open their books.

And do all their electricity trading on the open market, in a pool.

A single place, in public, for everyone who wants to buy or sell power.

No more secret price setting. No more back room deals.

The days where a company generates energy, sells it to themselves… and then sells it to us…

Those days will end.

But that’s just the start.

Have you ever wondered how it is that whatever world energy prices, whatever our bills are, somehow the energy companies always manage to make bigger and bigger profits?

Conference, let me spell it out.

If they own the power station and sell the electricity to themselves, what’s the incentive to keep their prices down, if all it does is reduce their profits?

So Conference, today I pledge, we will break up the Big Six.

The power stations will be separated from the companies that send you your bill.

Just as the banks will have to separate their investment and trading arms from the high street branches, so we will make the energy companies separate their production from the companies that supply your home.

And let me say one more thing about the bills you will receive…

Under Labour, on every bill you will see one standing charge and one unit price.

Simple.

Straightforward.

Easy to compare. Easy to switch.

Conference, ultimately, our best protection against volatile world energy prices is to save the energy that escapes through our windows, walls and rooftops.

And invest in home-grown British clean energy.

Around these small islands that make up Britain, from the Shetlands to Southampton, we must invest in the low-carbon energies that will power our country for a new industrial age.

And I say to every nation in our great country, we invest in energy together, we share the risks, we share the rewards.

We are stronger, together.

And to the Tory backwoodsmen, understand this: clean energy is not the enemy, climate change is.

So in government, we will set a clear course to clean up our power system.

To keep our country safe and secure, we will establish a new dedicated Energy Security Board, to identify our energy needs, secure investment for the future and keep the lights on.

And I promise we will end the disastrous decline in new jobs and industries under David Cameron.

I want Britain at the forefront of change, building a cleaner economy, creating the jobs our nation needs.

Conference, together, we can build a better Britain.

A Britain where the energy we share is secure, affordable and clean.

A Britain where Margaret, and millions like her, can warm their homes without fearing the bill.

A Britain to which we all truly belong.

For the many, not the few.

A Britain built by Labour.

Caroline Flint – Speech to 2012 Labour Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Caroline Flint to the Labour Party conference on 1st October 2012.

Conference it was my birthday the other week.

Apart from them arriving too quickly these days – I find myself reflecting on times gone by when life seemed simpler, but also on the amazing scientific advances that have changed our lives for the better.

Over the past year I have been inspired by the opportunities for jobs and growth new low carbon technologies can deliver for all our futures.

But some changes we have all experienced don’t seem that great. Technology was meant to put you in control and make life easier.

So why do so many of us feel less in control than ever before?

Do you remember a time when you knew what your bank manager looked like?

When you didn’t have to press ten numbers before you spoke to a human being?

When you didn’t have enough passwords to fill a small notebook?

Even buying something as simple as gas and electricity is bewildering today.

We all have to heat our homes and buy gas and electricity from somebody.

And I know that companies that keep the hospitals warm, factories working, and the lights on in 22 million homes are doing a pretty fundamental job for the British economy.

But even the big six energy giants know that something has gone badly wrong when the poorest people pay the most for energy and nearly everyone pays more than they need to.

When fewer than ever trust their energy company to help them.

Fewer than ever switch supplier.

And fewer than ever believe the Government will help.

Energy bills have gone through the roof in the past two years.

Up by £200.

And more price hikes heading our way this winter.

The Government tells people to shop around for a better deal.

It’s down to you they say.

You’re on your own.

That’s not the Labour way. We believe in co-operation.

We know that by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more together than we do alone.

Turning the clock back isn’t the answer.

But we don’t have to accept things the way they are.

I want to tell you and everyone at home, that Labour may not run the country but we can help you cut your bills today.

In America, co-operatives, local councils and community organisations are bringing people together to strike a better deal for their custom.

Our sister parties in Belgium and Holland have delivered cheaper energy prices for thousands of people through collective switching.

We can do the same.

I am proud to announce the launch of Labour’s SwitchTogether campaign.

We will ask people to sign up to Labour’s SwitchTogether to get a better energy deal.

And if the energy companies want our business they need to name the price.

Stand together. Buy energy together. Switch together.

Not giving up because we are in opposition but rolling up our sleeves and getting down to work.

Our strength is in our local organisation, our community links, our councillors, our members, our supporters.

I am asking you – knock on doors, deliver leaflets, organise community meetings, make the calls and the tweets.

We can reach out to people who are paying too much but alone can’t change that, and we can make a difference.

The next time someone tells you all political parties are the same – and they will – tell them Labour is buying energy on behalf of many people, as one customer to get a better deal.

Tell them about the first political party in British history to run a collective switch.

We may be in opposition.

We may not run the country.

But we can help people right now when this Government won’t.

There are of course things only Government can do, and the British people deserve to know Labour’s plans for the way our energy is sold.

Whenever bills go up, the energy companies always tell us they’re only passing on their costs.

So why, when prices rise do bills go up like a rocket but when they come down they fall like a feather – if at all?

The reason is – they’re allowed to run their businesses in such a complicated way that it’s almost impossible to know what the true cost of energy is.

This must end.

So we’re calling time on Ofgem.

Too often, Ofgem has ducked the opportunity to get tough with the energy giants, failed to enforce its own rules and let energy companies get away with ripping off hard pressed families and pensioners.

The time has come to say goodbye to Ofgem and create a tough new regulator that people can trust.

We will open the books of the energy giants.

Stop the backroom deals and end the secret contracts.

And if they don’t do it first, we will force the energy companies to pass on price cuts.

An energy market that is simpler and works in the public interest.

An energy market which delivers fair prices, protects the most vulnerable.

An energy market that people trust.

That is our pledge.

I am proud that it was a Labour Government that faced the future – stood by the science and faced the threat of our planet overheating.

We beat our Kyoto target and doubled renewable energy generation.

Ed Miliband delivered the Climate Change Act, a world first, placing Britain at the forefront of global action on carbon and sending out a clear message that Britain was open for green business.

When Labour left Government the UK was ranked third in the world for investment in green growth with £7billion of private money driving new energy and clean technology.

We are now seventh.

David Cameron’s promise to be the greenest government ever lies in tatters.

But let’s not forget the Liberal Democrats

It was Chris Huhne who took the axe to Britain’s solar industry.

It was Ed Davey who fired the starting gun on the next dash for gas.

Tories and Liberal Democrats.

Creating uncertainty.

Deterring investment.

Costing us jobs.

Britain must be part of an energy revolution just as important to this country’s prosperity as the Victorian railways, and the internet in the 20th century.

A cleaner future in a radically different, fairer energy market.

Britain needs:

New jobs.

New growth.

New hope.

And in 2015 – a Labour Government.

Caroline Flint – Speech to 2011 Labour Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Caroline Flint to the 2011 Labour Party conference on 29th September 2011.

Conference, nearly 45 years ago, in this great city, the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral opened.

Built from the donations of ordinary people, when they had so little to give.

As the dedication reminds us, they did it by touting the streets and pubs and knocking on doors like their own.

They did it with dolls and raffle tickets.

They did it with pools and bingo.

They did it with silver paper and tuppenny legacies.

They did it with cigarette and Green Shield stamps.

They did it with old newspapers and wedding rings.

They did it.

And the day it opened was their day.

That is the history of our party.

From the Christian socialism of the Welsh valleys.

To the self-help tradition of the Rochdale pioneers and the co-operative movement.

And visionary trade unionists like Doncaster railwaymen Thomas Steels and Jimmy Holmes, who moved the motion that persuaded the trade unions to create our great party.

Ours is the story of ordinary people in ordinary communities achieving extraordinary things.

They said that Labour could never win in Dartmouth.

Ben Cooper was prepared to stand up for Labour values.

And he won.

In Barking and Dagenham, when people feared the rise of the British National Party, brave men and women like Josie Channer, stood up against ignorance and prejudice

And won.

In York, Liberal Democrats said that 29 was too young for someone to run the council.

James Alexander proved that only Labour could bring the change that city wanted.

And Labour won.

Labour’s 800 – our new generation of councillors elected in May, prove day in day out that it is not age, it’s attitude that matters.

Every day, in the face of huge, frontloaded cuts.

Thousands of Labour councillors are:

– Giving voice to their communities.

– Defending the services people rely on.

– And building the good society.

The Tories like to talk the language of localism.

But it’s a strange localism that imposes cuts that fall deeper and faster on local councils and communities, than on almost any central government department.

It’s a strange localism that dismantles local services and puts blind faith in volunteers taking up the reins – because, as Ed Miliband has said, you can’t volunteer in your local Sure Start centre or library when it’s already been closed.

It’s a strange localism that sees Eric Pickles take to the TV studios to smear local councillors with cynical, politically motivated attacks.

It’s a supreme irony that a man of Eric Pickles’ stature is the Minister for Meals on Wheels.

And barely a day goes by without another missive from Mr Pickles to local councils.

Frankly, it would take more than a weekly bin collection to get rid of his rubbish.

Labour councils are showing that we are the real party of localism.

Not the party of big government, or an over-bearing Whitehall.

But the party of quality local services, of modern housing, and stronger communities.

Giving people a voice.

Giving them hope – when all the Tories offer is chaos, confusion and fear.

And I want to tell those councillors that we are doing our bit to ensure your voice is heard by the Government.

I am proud of the support my Shadow Team give to you.

So my thanks to:

Barbara Keeley

Alison Seabeck, to

Jack Dromey

Chris Williamson

Angela Smith

And Julie Elliott.

And our Lords team:

Jeremy Beecham

Bill McKenzie and

Roy Kennedy.

And most of all, our thanks to friends, old and new, in local government.

Who keep us on our toes.

And show us the impact of this Government’s failed policies.

And Dave, thanks to you. Your support has been invaluable in the last year.

Conference, one Tory MP said that chaos in the planning system is a good thing.

Well, they’ve certainly delivered on that.

Their planning reforms have already caused confusion and alarm.

But we are living in strange times when the Government reveals that the National Trust is part of a vast left-wing conspiracy

I must be going to the wrong meetings.

Of course, we all want an effective planning system that is able to meet our future needs for housing, transport and infrastructure, and which supports jobs and growth.

And that is exactly what we did in government.

Building businesses and homes, creating jobs, supporting growth.

And we did so, while we created new National Parks. And protected over 1.6million hectares of green belt.

Labour did so, while ensuring brownfield and town centre first policies.

And we won’t let them undermine this now.

It is a disgraceful sight.

To see Tory and Liberal Democrat ministers proudly publicising their opposition to local housing schemes in their back yard.

While standing in Parliament wringing their hands about the need for more homes.

Pure hypocrisy.

The truth is the economy isn’t stalling because of the planning system.

It’s stalling because of the Tories.

Cuts that go too far, too fast. And no plan for growth.

Look at what they’re doing on housing.

First time buyers waiting longer.

Fewer houses built last year than any year since the 1920s.

200,000 new homes cancelled in 18 months

Waiting lists for council houses soaring.

And only half a million mortgages provided last year.

Half the number provided each year during Labour’s first ten years.

Conference, the Tories have sucked the life out of our economy.

And hit the building industry hard.

And for every one of the housing developments cancelled there are skilled people put out of work and small suppliers put out of business.

That’s why we must kickstart the building industry by repeating the bankers’ bonus tax to fund 25,000 new homes.

And why a temporary cut in VAT to 5% on home improvements is vital.

Because George:

You might enjoy it hurting.

But it certainly ain’t working.

Conference, I am proud of what we achieved in our 13 years in power.

Proud of the one and a half million homes modernised.

Proud of the 250,000 affordable homes built in the teeth of a recession.

And proud of the 1 million extra families able to buy a home for the first time.

But I’m honest, too, that we did not do enough.

So today I reaffirm our commitment:

To a decent home for all.

At a price within their means.

In a place they want to live.

To the many people who want to own their home.

Who want to build an asset.

Who want security.

Who want a little more control over their own life.

We will support that dream.

But I also want those same benefits to be spread to those who live in social housing or the private rented sector as well.

Conference, we have ambitions for social housing.

To once again serve its original purpose.

A positive choice for many.

Homes for heroes.

Homes for those in need.

Homes for the hardworking.

And I’m not going to take any lectures on aspiration from a prime minister who believes that, if you get a pay rise you should be kicked out of your council house.

Under Labour, the private rented sector will be properly regulated, so every family that rents has security and choice.

And we will not ignore that more than a million properties in the private rented sector would not meet the decent homes standard.

It cannot be right that housing benefit continues to go into the pockets of landlords who have tenants in sub-standard properties.

Under Labour.

We will end it.

To the family who own their home but worry that their children never will.

To the older person wanting a smaller house.

But close to the church or community they’ve known their whole life.

To the son or daughter still living with relatives.

Or sleeping on the sofa of a friend.

For all those whose voice is never heard.

I say, we are on your side.

And we will fight to keep housing at the top of the agenda.

But we will only do that if we give councils the powers they need to build the homes their communities want.

In government, we were too slow to trust local councils and communities.

We were too reluctant to relinquish the levers of the state.

Too often, we looked like the party of Whitehall.

Not the town hall.

But Ed Miliband and I both know:

The only way you create stronger, safer, fairer communities is by trusting people to make their own decisions.

As our film showed, Labour Councils are pioneering new ways of delivering services.

Reinvigorating civic life.

And empowering local people.

But localism can never mean cutting councils loose.

Leaving communities to fend for themselves.

Or pitting North against South.

Where the Tories try to divide our country, we will seek unity.

Around a funding system fair to everyone, and which reflects need, as well as encouraging growth.

So that every council is able to deliver the services its community relies on.

On May 5th, we took another step forward.

From Gravesham to Gedling, Telford to Ipswich, Hull to Barrow in Furness.

In our great cities.

And in our market towns.

In our villages.

And in our seaside resorts.

Labour is regaining the confidence of the British people.

Town by town.

Street by street.

Door by door.

At every opportunity:

We must win more seats.

And more councils.

Until the Tories’ onslaught on local government is stopped in its tracks.

Today, I say to the British people:

Labour is once again finding its voice in all corners of our country.

The party of community.

The party of localism.

And in 2015, the party of government.

Caroline Flint – 1997 Maiden Speech

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Caroline Flint in the House of Commons on 2nd June 1997.

I thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for the opportunity to make my maiden speech during our consideration of this important Bill. To be able to stand here today as the new Member of Parliament for Don Valley and to speak on behalf of my constituents for the first time is a humbling experience—humbling because I am here by the grace and good will of the people of Don Valley and because my predecessor, Martin Redmond, who served the people of Don Valley for 14 hard years of opposition, was deprived of the opportunity to stand here as a new era of Labour Government begins.

In the 10 weeks from my selection as candidate to polling day, I learnt much from the people of Don Valley about Martin. A private man, he remained living in the same village that was his home. He remained friends with the people he knew from before his election. He made time for individuals and he was regarded with warmth and affection. In his maiden speech in July 1983, Martin was able proudly to describe Don Valley’s main industry as coal mining. Now we can but say that coal mining is part of the heart and character of Don Valley, but that it is no longer the main employer. Martin saw the heavy price paid by the mining communities that are strung from east to west of the constituency as their industry closed without the necessary foresight and investment needed to build a new economic life to replace the old.

Like many constituents who supported new Labour on 1 May, Martin Redmond understood the value of work. He believed in reward for hard work, in the respect and achievement derived from a lifetime of work and in the dignity that should be the rightful reward to be enjoyed in retirement. Martin understood the corrosive effects of persistent unemployment and the dangers of enforced idleness. He criticised the insecurity that seemed to be built into too many jobs.

Martin Redmond witnessed a Britain divided between the haves and have-nots—those with work and those without, and those with opportunities and those without. Martin Redmond would have been proud of the start that this new Labour Government have made—the concerted plan to tackle youth unemployment and the plan to shorten NHS waiting lists. He would have been as proud as I am to welcome this Bill, which will make good the key pledge on class sizes for which Labour has received a clear mandate.

Don Valley’s history is steeped in mining. Every previous Member of Parliament came from mining and I pay tribute to them all. Indeed, in 70 years, the constituency has had but five Members of Parliament. James Walton, a miner, was the first Member of Parliament to represent the constituency from 1918 to 1922. He was the only Labour candidate in the history of Don Valley to have the unofficial support of the Conservatives.

I would love to boast that I am the youngest Member of Parliament in Don Valley’s history, but I am not. Tom Williams, later Baron Williams, was elected in 1922 at the age of 34. I would love to aspire to be the constituency’s longest-serving Member of Parliament, but Tom Williams served 37 years, until 1959, and I cannot imagine having such a substantial tenure. He served through great and turbulent times; his seventh general election victory was in 1945. As the right hon. Tom Williams, he then served as Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries until 1959. He made a distinguished contribution to the House and I would be proud to be mentioned on the same page in the history books.

Tom Williams was succeeded by Dick Kelley, who served the people of Don Valley for 20 years. In his maiden speech, in November 1959, Dick Kelley was concerned for the economic survival of the village communities he represented. He pleaded: These villages must be kept alive.”—[Official Report, 9 November 1959; Vol. 613, c. 72.] In the weeks leading up to the 1997 election, that view was expressed to me many times.

I am most grateful, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for having been allowed to make this speech so soon after my election to this House. I would love to have claimed that I was the quickest of the six Don Valley Members to have made a maiden speech, but that honour remains with Mick Welsh, who was Member of Parliament from 1979 to 1983 and who was later the Member for Doncaster, North. He addressed the House just 20 days after the general election. In his maiden speech, Michael Welsh celebrated the genuine community life of the mining villages of Don Valley. Those men embraced, celebrated and championed Don Valley’s culture and communities for the best part of a century. I celebrate it, too.

Don Valley is a changing constituency. It is perhaps fitting that I am the first woman to represent it. I am not from a mining background. At the time of my selection, try as I might to discover that a distant grandparent had once spent a long weekend in Don Valley, I could not. I determined then that honesty was the only policy. My curriculum vitae announced, I won’t try to kid you that I’m from South Yorkshire. I’m not. Labour party members, and subsequently the electorate, welcomed me with warmth and friendliness to put down roots in the constituency, as they did for so many people before who moved from the four corners of the United Kingdom to make Don Valley their home. Indeed, I am very proud to have been made a life member of the Official’s club in Edlington, and to have been presented with a badge bearing the white rose of Yorkshire and welcomed as an honorary Yorkshirewoman.

In his 1941 book about Don Valley entitled “Old King Coal”, Robert W. L. Ward wrote: Men from Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Durham, Northumberland, Wales and Ireland came in hundreds, bringing with them customs, dialects, superstitions and faiths foreign to the Don Valley. Gradually these foreigners from the midlands and the north have become digested by their South Yorkshire hosts. And such digestion has done something to enrich the local strain. The Don Valley that I know is a diverse community. It is dominated by the former mining villages of Conisbrough, Denaby, Edlington, Rossington, and Hatfield—a new addition to the constituency. It is a constituency of striking landmarks, scenic villages and many beauty spots. It includes villages stretching to the borders of Nottinghamshire, such as Bawtry. The constituency has seen a rapid expansion of villages such as Auckley, Finningley and Sprotbrough, with new families and their young children moving to the area every week.

Don Valley is the historic heart of South Yorkshire, boasting two castles—Tickhill and Conisbrough, which is the setting for the classic story “Ivanhoe”, penned by Sir Walter Scott in a room in the Boat inn at Sprotbrough falls. If The Mirror is to be believed, “Ivanhoe” is the favourite book of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister.

In the book, Sir Walter Scott describes Conisbrough castle. He wrote: There are few more beautiful or more striking scenes in England than are presented by the vicinity of this ancient Saxon fortress. The soft and gentle River Don sweeps through an amphitheatre in which cultivation is richly blended with woodland, and on a mount ascending from the river, well defended by walls and ditches, rises this ancient edifice. Conisbrough castle is part of Don Valley’s past, but it is also part of its future. Along with the Earth centre on the site of the old Denaby main colliery, Conisbrough castle affords opportunities to attract visitors from afar and become part of Don Valley’s economic regeneration.

I know that the people of Don Valley will welcome the Bill, which will pave the way to reducing class sizes. That pledge, coupled with the ambitious goal of raising education standards and opportunities for children and young people, will be received with great enthusiasm by the electors of Don Valley. Families with young people in Don Valley know that, unlike for previous generations, the mines will not provide the gateway to employment for the many. They know that education is the foundation. The achievement of their children will determine their life chances thereafter. The Bill demonstrates that the Government intend to place education at the centre of their programme—the No. 1 priority. Education is the building block for the future, and children must be at the heart of it.

During the election campaign, one French teacher asked me how she could teach French to children in year 7 of secondary school if, when they arrived, some had not yet mastered the basics of written and spoken English. That is a problem that the Conservatives refused to tackle. Standards are the cornerstone of our education policy. Schools are a vital part of any community and have a precious role to play in the life of the small villages that dominate my constituency.

However, schools are not islands, and must be encouraged to share their expertise, spread their best practice and learn from each other. Where a school is failing, we must look to turn it around in six months, not six years. That should be the Government’s ambition. Not to do so is to condemn generations of children.

Gone are the days when the height of Government ambition was to have one good school in every town. That proposal was rejected at the election. We must ensure that every school is a good school; that every school comes up to scratch—nothing less is acceptable. Gone will be the complacency that allowed class sizes to rise steadily throughout the years of the Major Government. By 1996, more than 1.25 million children were in classes of 31 or more. Indeed, in my constituency, more than 2,000 children are in classes of more than 30 pupils.

I welcome the Government’s intention to review the presentation of league tables, because, vital as they are, the many qualities that a school offers—leadership, morale and parental involvement—are all essential ingredients that add value to a child’s education. Those qualities must be reflected in information made available to parents. The Bill makes a start. Those who choose to buy private education for their child are buying one thing above all else: smaller class sizes. Yet for the majority in Britain, the past five years have seen an unrelenting rise in class sizes. That rise must be brought to an end, and the Bill helps to release resources to begin that task.

The Bill will be welcomed by the electorate of Don Valley as a sign of a new Labour Government who govern for the many not for the few; a sign that Britain has turned a page in history and entered a new era. The Government deserve praise for the flying start that they have made, showing in weeks that a change of Government can lead to a change of mood and priorities. I hope that, for the duration of the Government’s term of office, I serve my constituency well in this new era in British life—a period of new hope and great opportunities. As the Member of Parliament for Don Valley, and, perhaps more important, as the mother of three children in state education, I commend the Bill to the House.