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英国首相布莱尔02系列演讲之PM's speech on forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review - 12 July

2006-05-30 18:22

  At the last election we set out our priorities and the challenges facing the country; strengthening the economy, so that families see their standards of living rise; raising productivity and extending prosperity; modernising our public services around the needs of the individual; a civic society founded on rights and responsibilities; and a strong Britain acting as a force for good in the world.

  Next week's spending review will address these priorities, and set a clear course for the Parliament as we strive to give everyone the chance to make the most of their potential.

  The Budget placed NHS spending on a sustained footing for the long-term.

  The spending review follows through on education, which was, is, and always will be the No.1 priority of my Government for Britain's social and economic future.

  We said schools and hospitals first, and the Budget and now the spending review show that we meant it. We know that whatever progress has been made, there is a huge amount still to do if we are to deliver the first class public services the country needs, and expects us to have.

  The test of a government that believes in society is whether it is willing to invest in its public services.

  The test of a government that believes in its people is whether it is willing to reform those services.

  In the spending review next week, we will show our commitment to investment and reform.

  The spending review sets out what we will get for this massive cash injection in the NHS - benefits including, for example, more doctors and nurses, a maximum waiting time for all operations of 6 months and a big drive to reduce deaths from cancer and heart disease. We are expanding capacity by bringing in surgeons from abroad. For the first time ever, we are giving patients a choice over where they have their operation. And we are setting up a tough, independent inspectorate for all hospitals, public or private, to guarantee high standards right across the country.

  And on education we can see that right here in this school. This is not a rich school. The head teacher no doubt will say he needs more resources. More than a quarter of students here get free school meals and 40 per cent of parents receive benefits - yet 82% of students get five or more grade A*-C GCSEs. If they stay on, go to university and get good jobs, their children won't need free school meals. Education is the best means to eradicate poverty and enable people to realise their own unique potential, and this school is living proof that it can be done.

  So what's the lesson? It is that a combination of money, strong leadership, and commitment from the staff to raise standards gives you a public service we can proud of. Not just modest improvement, but one that is up to the standard people should expect of the fourth largest economy in the world. You don't have to live in a society of privilege to get that world-class public service. You just have to live in a society governed by fairness and the determination to get the best out of our public services.

  That is why, as well as following through on investment in the NHS, the spending review makes a special commitment to education - driving the boldest reform programme for fifty years, from our core mission to transform secondary education to the under-fives and universities.

  In secondary schools, we are aiming for the kind of progress we achieved in our first term in primary schools. Our ambition is to replace the old 'one size fits all' comprehensive with secondary schools that can develop the talents of each pupil. That way, more of them will stay on in full-time education and training until 19 and then go on to skilled jobs as we fulfil our goal of 50% of 18-30 year olds entering higher education by 2010. I simply do not, and will not accept that this is an over-ambitious target for Britain.

  But most of we will end the cosy elitism that has bedevilled our education system and held our country back for the last century. It is at the root of Britain's poor productivity performance and historic class divisions. We must banish forever the idea that the best education is only for a small, privileged minority, but for the majority there is no proper vocational route and second-rate opportunities. We are making this commitment to a world-class education for every child. Our children are this country's most precious resource.

  And this is our goal: to allow British families to face the future with confidence - confidence that living standards will rise, that public services will improve, and that each and every one of our children will be able to fulfil their true potential.

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