Gove accused of ‘rushing through’ academies law

By politics.co.uk staff

Ed Balls has accused the government of rushing through legislation expanding the academies programme, as the battle between him and Michael Gove becomes increasingly bitter.

Speaking on the Today programme this morning, Mr Balls criticised the government for planning new schools while cancelling funding for building work on existing institutions and for rushing the legislation through without sufficient scrutiny.

“The boost to communities, to aspiration, of a new building that says you’re first class, is really important. And I’m afraid Michael Gove today is saying to hundreds and hundreds of thousands of children around the country, ‘I’m sorry, you aren’t worth it, you’re not my priority’,” Mr Balls said.

“And instead he’s rushing through the House of Commons today, and this week, new legislation to take money from existing schools, take away new buildings, and instead set up new free-market schools [for] some parents if they’ve got the voice to get them.”

Mr Gove responded by reminding Mr Balls that Labour had rushed through the abolition of assisted places before the recess when it came to power in 1997.

“It’s striking that the Labour government in 1997 introduced its first piece of education legislation at an even faster pace than we did. They introduced it at speed. They didn’t have a committee stage,” he said.

Tory sources insisted that the bill has received 22 hours of debate in committee, detailed scrutiny in the Lords and just under nine hours report debate.

Exchanges between Mr Gove and Mr Balls – a Labour leadership hopeful – have become increasingly hostile since the coalition government took office, with the shadow education secretary adopting an angry response to Mr Gove’s mistake over the cancellation of Building Schools for the Future.