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Cash questions

As Dumfries and Galloway's schools become the latest battleground in the use of private funds to beef up the public sector (page 3 and opposite), last week's report from the Institute for Public Policy Research was a timely warning against privatisation for its own sake. The think tank, which has close ties to Labour, underlines the importance of clear accountability when it comes to schools.

The Scottish Executive does not yet share Downing Street's passion for privatisation. But it is as well to remember that PPP projects exist simply because arcane Treasury rules do not count them against public expenditure, in contrast to conventionally-funded schemes. So let us not pretend that "the only game in town" is anything to do with the superiority of private solutions for public needs.

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