Major to stress 'core value' of education to nation's well-being: 'Back to basics' campaign drops attack on single mothers

EDUCATION is to play a higher than expected profile in Thursday's Queen's Speech and will be spotlighted by the Prime Minister today in a speech aimed at pushing forward his 'back to basics' campaign.

John Patten, Secretary of State for Education, also delivered his plainest hint yet that his contentious proposal for a 'mum's army' of primary-school teachers will go ahead.

In a marked retreat from the ministerial attack on single mothers, John Major will emphasise in tonight's Lord Mayor's banquet speech that invoking 'core' values involves recognising that social and economic policy is inextricably related, and that aims such as a better- educated workforce are crucial for the nation's economic well-being.

Such a message is not dissimilar from that propounded by Gordon Brown, the shadow Chancellor, and by Paddy Ashdown, the Liberal Democrat leader.

In an 'alternative Budget' speech in Birmingham tomorrow, Mr Ashdown will spotlight education as the key to stability and prosperity, but will claim that because of the public spending freeze, Mr Major will be unable to deliver.

In the wake of Tory party conference speeches that dwelt on social security scrounging and the need to force social change by making lone parenthood less morally and financially acceptable, the Prime Minister is keen to shift the argument and emphasise that traditional beliefs in a stable background, hard work and the value of education are most likely to produce a competitive, enthusiastic, well-trained workforce.

Mr Major's belief that governments can only wield limited influence on long-term social trends and that the campaign against single mothers could backfire in the eyes of the wider public will disappoint right-wing ministers. John Redwood, Secretary of State for Wales, Michael Howard, the Home Secretary, and Peter Lilley, Secretary of State for Social Security, believe the Government needs to take a lead in discouraging lone motherhood.

But Mr Patten yesterday put this little higher than that governments had a duty to 'talk about the fabric of society'. He added that some politicians were not the best mouthpieces or advertisements for moral or family values.

Sir Edward Heath, the former prime minister, told BBC's Breakfast with Frost that the idea that single women had babies to get social security 'could only have been put forward by dogmatists who have no understanding of humanity'. The wisdom of Mr Major's more tolerant attitude appears to be reflected in an NOP/Sunday Times poll suggesting a reluctance to condemn one-parent families or cut benefit.

Further splits in backbench Tory opinion are to be revealed today in a Financial Times survey, suggesting that just over 50 per cent of MPs would back tax increases in the Budget, while just under half think the Chancellor, Kenneth Clarke, would be wrong to impose VAT on fuel at the full rate of 17.5 per cent.

Mr Clarke and Mr Lilley are still locked in combat over the highly- sensitive issue of measures to compensate the poor for the imposition of the tax. Despite protracted negotiation and the intervention of Mr Major in a meeting last week, the package has yet to be settled.

Mr Patten declined to elaborate on the detailed contents of the Queen's Speech, but hinted strongly that it would contain the widely condemned proposals for non-graduate teacher-training for primary schools.

'It is important that we bend over backwards to get mature people, in their 30s and 40s, who have perhaps worked elsewhere than teaching, into teaching to help us to get our fundamentals,' he told BBC Radio 4's The World This Weekend.

Along with education reforms, tougher criminal justice laws and deregulation will be the centrepieces of the Queen's Speech.

Among the revolutionary deregulation measures expected will be the widescale repeal of a host of safety laws, the scrapping of all restrictions on Monday to Saturday shopping hours and the right for parents to take children under 14 into pubs.

Leading article, page 15

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Service Engineers - Doncaster / Hull

£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...

Recruitment Genius: Employability / Recruitment Adviser

£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...