Deregulation is Hagues cure for ailing schools and hospitals

1 Feb 01
William Hague has promised that the next Conservative government would 'deregulate' schools and hospitals as part of a drive to boost standards in public services.

02 February 2001

The Tory party leader said he would break up the 'monopoly' enjoyed by service providers and introduce competition to give the public greater choice. Education would be the first public service to undergo this 'audacious' programme of reform but in time every major service area would experience the same transformation.

'Why are we constantly surprised that our public services are inefficient, inflexible and unresponsive? Why do we look on with amazement when users find their encounter with the public sector unsatisfying?' he asked. 'Monopoly provision by huge bureaucratic providers cannot work, so we are going to champion diversity and allow choice.'

In his speech to Conservative think-tank Politeia on January 30, Hague outlined his 'free schools' initiative, which he claimed would boost parent power. Schools would remain state-financed but funding would 'follow the pupil', so failing schools with low pupil numbers would lose funds. Charities, religious foundations, community groups and private companies could all be brought in to run the 'partner schools'.

'By making free choices, parents will be able to call schools to account. The best schools will thrive and the worst will face pressure to change,' he said.

Hague made clear that the NHS would also be exposed to increased competition, although he stressed this would not mean privatisation or compulsory health insurance. However, private health care would be actively encouraged and GPs would be able to refer patients to the hospital of their choice.


Did you enjoy this article?