HC Deb 09 March 1992 vol 205 cc642-3
33. Mr. Dunn

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether he has any plans to visit the Duchy in the near future; and if he will make a statement.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Chris Patten)

I refer to the answer that I gave to the hon. Member for Hemsworth (Mr. Enright) some moments ago.

Mr. Dunn

Does the Chancellor of the Duchy realise that a visit to Lancashire—to the Duchy—in the near future—

Mr. Corbyn

He does not even know where it is.

Mr. Dunn

I was born there. Would not such a visit provide a glorious opportunity to point out that the assisted places scheme—among other major educational advances—would be abolished under a Labour Government, thereby denying many bright children in the Duchy the opportunity of a first-rate education?

Mr. Patten

I share a birthplace with my hon. Friend, and I also share his concern about the future of the assisted places scheme. There are 295 schools in England benefiting from the scheme, and eight are in Lancashire. It is astonishing that the Labour party keep putting it on record that it is prepared to defend independent schools but refuses to allow poorer families to send their children to them. That is astonishing humbug.

Dr. Cunningham

Will the Chancellor of the Duchy reconsider his decision and pay a visit to the north-west, especially so that he can meet the 800 people a week who have lost their job since this time last year as a result of the Government's policies? When he is there, will he explain to the people of the north-west why he has changed his mind about borrowing? Does he recall saying in his Disraeli lecture to a Conservative audience that high levels of borrowing were nothing more than deferred taxation? Why has he changed his mind?

Mr. Patten

In the less demotic phases of my career I have given a number of lectures, most of them described as the Disraeli lectures, some as the Macmillan lecture and some even as the Macleod lecture. As for the borrowing lecture and the lecture on job creation, I have been able to state on a number of occasions when I have been a little more demotic that all independent forecast suggest that under a Labour Government—heaven forbid—borrowing and unemployment would be higher.