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The BBC's Carolyn Quinn
"The report provides little by the way of national statistics"
 real 28k

The BBC's Alan Grady
"The first time the prime minister has taken charge of the presentation"
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Thursday, 13 July, 2000, 15:22 GMT 16:22 UK
Under-fire Labour hails progress
Cabinet Office Minister Mo Mowlam with the government's annual report
Mo Mowlam launches sales of the government report
The prime minister has detailed the government's third annual report to MPs, telling them that health and education remain the government's top priorities.

Mr Blair took the unusual step of using a Commons statement to launch the much criticised report, which opposition parties say amounts to little more than government spin.

Government report
1m jobs created by New Deal
1m children lifted out of poverty
NHS waiting lists down to 1,054,000
5,000 more doctors
10,000 more nurses
But the report, seen as a key part of Labour's fightback after a rocky few weeks, has coincided with a warning to the party by Foreign Office Minister Peter Hain, who has said the government is out of touch with the voters.

Mr Blair told a House of Commons that was sparsely attended for such a key statement: "The priorities remain education, education, education."

A lot more needs to be done and this government will do it

Tony Blair
He said the government would tackle any remaining problems in the school system with: "Investment, investment, investment guaranteed."

The prime minister added: "There is a lot done. But a lot more needs to be done and this government will do it."

Turning to the health service, he said waiting lists for in-patients were down and the next stage would be to create a "sustained fall in outpatient waiting".

The economy, Mr Blair said, was in good shape with rising wages and steady inflation at around 2%, a figure within government targets.

He added that Labour would "build a Britain that is strong, modern and fair".

Report 'nonsense'

Replying to the prime minister's statement, Tory leader William Hague gave the report short shrift, saying simply: "How are we to believe any of this rubbish?"

The report, he said, was "self-congratulatory nonsense."

Mr Hague asked the House: "Shouldn't we have a real annual report on this government?"

Then attacking Labour point by point, he said: "No tax increases at all, abandoned. Twenty-four hours to save the NHS, abandoned. Ethical foreign policy, abandoned.

"Broken promises, done. Weak leadership, done. Split on the euro, done."

Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy also rounded on the government.

He asked Mr Blair if it was not reasonable to expect anyone writing a report about themselves to be self-congratulatory.

Mr Kennedy suggested: "If this is to be a meaningful exercise in the future - shouldn't it be one made on an independent audit."

Report on the web

The report, which has cost 170,000 to produce in print and on the internet, is on sale in bookshops and supermarkets at 2.99.

It has also been published on the government's website, where members of the public are able to see a breakdown of government activity in their own area by typing in their postcode.

In the report, Mr Blair wrote: "We are on the way to meeting our five election pledges and 10-point contract with the people."

He said it was Labour's intention to "provide opportunity and security in a world of change and to do it in a way that benefits the majority, not just a few".

Mr Blair also used the report to deliver an upbeat assessment of the economy.

Spending review

According to the report, crime has dropped by 7% since Labour came to power, with burglary down by 20%, but violent crime has risen by 4%.

Looking to the government's public spending review due next week, the prime minister pledged more money would be available for the police.

If we all wrote our own end-of-term reports, we'd all give ourselves top marks

Charles Kennedy
The money had been made available by reforms to the welfare system, he said.

Mr Blair said education too would receive a cash boost next week, while he praised public sector workers as the ones responsible for delivering the government's objectives.

While trumpeting the massive constitutional changes that have taken place since 1997, such as devolution, Mr Blair also acknowledged there had been some difficulties.

"Of course, having different solutions to the same problem in different parts of the United Kingdom is not always comfortable. "

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See also:

13 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Annual report cuts out the spin
13 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Annual report: a hostage to fortune?
13 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Ministers seen as 'automatons' - Hain
12 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Blair moves back to substance
12 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Blair denies 'annus horribilis'
05 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Labour dubbed 'government of gimmicks'
05 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Questions over Blair's Commons blunders
13 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Brown's spending bonanza
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