SHADOW education secretary Stephen Dorrell has accused the government of seeking absolutist "Henry VIII powers" in its attempts to reform education.
Mr Dorrell drew parallels between Henry's state centralism and the enabling powers in the Teaching and Higher Education and the School Standards and Framework bills. He said that both bills sought to confer more power on the secretary of state to intervene in university and school affairs, respectively.
Former health secretary Mr Dorrell said that the bills would give education secretary David Blunkett the same degree of control over education as he had enjoyed while in charge of health under the previous Conservative administration. Mr Dorrell said that this was entirely wrong.
"The health service is a nationalised service, education is not a nationalised service," he said. "University councils are not appointed by the secretary of state, they are independent institutions."