Uses the experience of parental choice and competition in primary schools to argue that, if the aim is to have a public service that treats its users more like queens than like pawns and, moreover, is relatively efficient in its use of resources, then a system of quasi‐market competition with independent providers run by public sector professionals and with users or their agents having fixed budgets is the best—or perhaps the least bad. There is a danger in such a system that providers will exploit any informational advantages they may have to lower quality or to cream‐skim. However, this is likely to be restrained in part by their knightly instincts and in part by the judicious design of policy, incorporating such measures as the positively discriminating voucher.
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