WHEN I first heard Gordon Brown's latest plan to claw back money from those schools which had saved some of their annual budget, I had to check my calendar to see if it was April Fool's Day.

It was only when the letters from local headteachers started to land on my desk that I realised that the Government, which has always preached that the country should be saving prudently' for a rainy day, was seriously considering this plan.

Ministers had proposed that five per cent could be levied on excess' cash saved up by schools over their financial year.

In Hillingdon where our schools are well run, well maintained and better than the national average, this would mean that, in the primary sector, more than £150,000 would be clawed back, and £120,000 would be taken back from secondary schools.

This is equivalent to six or seven newly qualified teachers in each sector.

Thankfully, under a lot of pressure, the schools minister has now partially dropped this plan, though he is still threatening to review the situation over the next three years.

However, if the plan does still go ahead, schools would be forced to either spend their excess' savings or see their hard-saved money taken back into the Government coffers.

Does the Government really mean to penalise schools for saving money over several years for a new music department or IT centre? Gordon Brown should have ruled out this plan to penalise prudent schools altogether.

This is not the only Government climb-down in recent days. It has underestimated the number of immigrants employed in the UK by some 700,000. This is nearly double their original figure. Sadly, it is all too evident to us the pressures that are being put on services in Hillingdon and elsewhere are because of the Government's failure to know what is actually happening in the real world.