Gove rejects Labour accusation that the government is forcing the Bill through too quickly

The Academies Bill was given its second reading in the House of Commons yesterday amid accusations the government was rushing through its controversial education policy.

Just weeks after education secretary Michael Gove cancelled the £55bn Building Schools for the Future programme, the government proposed that all schools should have the opportunity to apply for academy status. Such a status would remove a school from local authority control and give it access to central government funding.

Labour has accused the coalition of forcing the Academies Bill through Parliament using a compressed schedule normally reserved for terror legislation or constitutional affairs.

Ed Balls, shadow education secretary, said: “I cannot remember a time when a major reform of public services was rushed through Parliament in a way that’s only normally done for emergencies like anti-terrorism legislation.”

Gove said there was “ample time” for scrutiny of the Academies Bill. Talking on the BBC Gove said: “Rushed laws can be bad laws.”

“But if you’ve had people who’ve been waiting for five years, if you have, as we have, hundreds of schools who are anxious to take advantage of these proposals, then it is understandable that you want to honour a manifesto commitment.”

Debate on the Bill was held as hundreds of pupils joined teachers and construction workers outside Parliament to protest against the cancellation of BSF.

Speaking at the demonstration, Balls said that axing BSF was “exactly the wrong thing to do now.” Cutting the schools rebuilding programme would increase unemployment and ruin the economic recovery, he said.