By Tim Montgomerie
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Earlier in the House of Commons Oliver Letwin MP outlined the Coalition's new White Paper on the future of the public services. He began by saying that his aim was to give poorer people the same choice as richer people:
"When public services aren’t up to scratch, those who are well off can pay for substitutes. But for those who are not well off, there is no opportunity to pay for substitutes. So we need to give everybody the same choice in, and the same power over, the services they receive that well off people already have."
He then set out the five principles that underpin the White Paper and of the Coalition's vision for the public services:
- Choice – wherever possible we will increase choice;
- Decentralisation – power will be decentralised to the lowest appropriate level;
- Diversity – public services will be open to a range of providers;
- Fair access – we will ensure that there is fair access and fair funding for all; and
- Accountability – services will be accountable to users and taxpayers.
The Cabinet Office Minister said that transparency of government data was essential to enabling change. Perestroika needed glasnost, he said later in an answer to a question from Stephen Dorrell:
- crime maps, so people can see whether the local police are preventing crime in their street;
- health outcomes, so people can see which hospitals and which GPs achieve the best results;
- standardised satisfaction data for all public services – so people can see exactly which service providers are providing the quality of service people want; and
- open, real-time data on road conditions, speeds and accidents along our motorways, so people can make informed choices.