Tories prepare for education fight

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The Conservatives will try to overturn a string of concessions made by Tony Blair on education reforms in a bid to split Labour.

David Willetts, the shadow Education Secretary, attempted to maximise the Government's discomfort over the Education and Inspection Bill by insisting that the Tories now represent the "authentic voice" of Mr Blair's public sector reforms. Labour rebels say they will vote against the third reading of the Education and Inspection Bill when it returns to the Commons next week.

Mr Willetts laid a series of amendments to the Bill seeking to remove concessions made to Labour MPs and move it closer to the vision of reform contained in the Government's Education White Paper published last autumn.

He said: "I call on the Government to back our amendments that deliver the policies in the Government's own White Paper."

Labour left-wingers will back an amendment forcing schools to hold a ballot of parents before taking up the controversial new trust status, and are pledged to oppose the legislation in principle.

The Conservatives hope to amend the Bill to ensure that local councils are banned from opening new community schools.

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