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The BBC's Norman Smith
"For William Hague it has been a dismal summer"
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The BBC's John Kampfner
"The intention is to be radical without appearing extreme"
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William Hague MP
"A powerful vision for the future"
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Tuesday, 5 September, 2000, 08:35 GMT 09:35 UK
Tories set out election stall
Performing an experiment at Sussex University
Tories say the plans will stop the 'brain drain' to the USA
The Conservative Party is to set out its pledges on education, Europe and the economy in a mini-manifesto for the next general election published on Tuesday.

Tory leader William Hague's push for power will focus on halting the transfer of further key powers to the European Union and ending local authority control of schools.

Top universities would also be given billions of pounds and would be cut loose from government control if the Conservatives were elected.


This so-called free university policy would mean a massive hike in the tuition fees for the middle classes

Baroness Blackstone

Mr Hague heralded the programme, as having "more detail" than any other opposition platform and said he believed the Tories can win the next election.

About 100 new policies are outlined in the Believing in Britain document, to be launched on Tuesday.

The proposed higher education shake-up, which would see the end of state funding for universities, is among the more radical elements of the package.

The Tory leader described what is bound to become a controversial policy as "a bold vision of the future" which would allow British universities more freedom to compete with the best institutions in the world.


I am against the single currency. If I am wrong prove me wrong.

William Hague
Mr Hague said the institutions would be eligible for endowments - possibly as much as 1bn each - which they could invest to generate funding for the future.

The money for them would come from one-off government revenue such as the cash raised by selling off the mobile phone licences earlier this year.

Believeing in Britain pamphlet
Hague targets Europe and higher education

Attacking Labour's record on education he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme it was time to be "more ambitious for this country". Labour was, he said, "squandering the opportunity presented by prosperity".

But Higher Education Minister Baroness Blackstone warned that the policy would cause tuition fees to rise as universities would have to compete against each other for the endowments and would lose the guarantee of government funding.

She said: "This so-called free university policy would mean a massive hike in the tuition fees for the middle classes.

"It could mean that many talented youngsters would not be able to go to university and fees could increase four fold."


We will make Britain a world centre for the new economy

William Hague
Believing In Britain will also set out Mr Hague's vision for the UK's future in Europe with a pledge not to concede any more powers to Brussels.

Building on their defence of the single currency, the Tories are set to promise that if elected they will prevent the European Union from taking any powers that they list as "reserved" away from the UK.

Mr Hague said it was essential to enshrine in law what powers should remain with the UK government, to stop them being taken away by future moves by the European Commission or the European courts.

While on the euro he said he was against it in the mid-term and added: "I am against the single currency. If I am wrong prove me wrong."

Turning to the party's determination to deliver tax cuts despite sticking to Labour's spending plans on health Mr Hague said reform of the welfare state could save up to 3bn.

And he promised a "huge reduction in the cost and size of government".

Mr Hague is also determined to make the UK "Europe's new economy capital".

E-economy at the heart

At the heart of Tory plans on the economy are increased deregulation, specifically of the e-economy, with possible targets for reform including the government's new Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act.

Mr Hague is expected to say: "We will make Britain a world centre for the new economy, because we understand the way new technology is changing the rules."

The Tory paper will be circulated among party members, who will be invited to signal their approval in a ballot, the result of which will be announced to the annual autumn conference.

  • The intensification of campaigning by the Conservatives comes as the Liberal Democrats prepare to release a similar mini-manifesto on Wednesday.

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    See also:

    04 Sep 00 | Business
    Anti-euro campaign launched
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    Hague appeals to middle Britain
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