Speech to the National Assembly for Wales
"I suppose that we should not be in the least bit surprised that the Government that has downplayed the role of mathematics in education has produced a budget that would bring a blush to the cheeks of an Enron accounts executive.
I will give one example that is of great interest to me. The Minister for Education and Lifelong Learning has issued copious press releases about £126 million for post-16 education—she meant the budget line that refers to ELWa.
The fact is that, in this current financial year, ELWa had £521 million, as the figures show, and next year it will get an extra £25 million—a 4.7 per cent increase, which brings the total up to £546 million. That is not disputed.
The following year, it will get an increase of £20 million—from £546 million to £566 million—an increase that I calculate is a modest 3.6 or maybe even 4 per cent. The year after that, the budget will go from £566 million to £578 million, which I make an increase of £12 million, or 2.12 per cent.
For all that the Government talks about an extra £126 million, these increases are modest. When you deduct inflation and the enormous increases in running costs that have been imposed by this Government through policies such as the increase in national insurance, and increased red tape and bureaucracy, you suddenly find that this £126 million will not go anywhere at all—it is a modest increase of a few percentage points each year, minus the amounts built in for inflation.
That will not mean more money for post-16 education—it will mean less.
This mathematical jiggery-pokery is repeated in every column of this double-counting budget.
However, this blatant use of figures and statistics to give a false impression will not fool anyone, because no-one any longer trusts a word that is said by Labour politicians, either in Cardiff or in Westminster.
They promised extra money for education, but over the years we have seen the reality—schools closing, teachers being made redundant, and courses in places such as Coleg Gwent being axed.
They promised extra money for the health service. We all know what has happened: one in 10 people are on a waiting list, it is impossible to find an NHS dentist, and now it looks as if the GP out-of-hours service is going as well.
They promised a huge crime-fighting fund, but what have they done with the money? Where are the policemen to go out and tackle the criminals, or the prison officers, or the prisons?
In my constituency child rapists are being put into an open prison from which they can walk out at any time. They promised support for local government, but we have had an increase in council taxes of 135 per cent over the past few years.
They can spin all they want and try to deceive us with figures, but we know what the reality is: this Labour Party has failed us on the health service, education, crime fighting, and local government.
It has failed to sort out the agricultural problems, it has given us deliberately misleading information to take us into war over Iraq, and it has spent on a £55 million new building, on Welsh embassies and on an army of bureaucrats who are not needed.
The great Tory reformer, Disraeli, spoke of lies, damned lies and statistics: had he seen this Government's budget today, he could have been even more concise."