HC Deb 10 April 1952 vol 498 cc2963-5
25. Mr. Eric Fletcher

asked the Minister of Education whether, in view of the growing public feeling against the cuts in the education service, as demonstrated by the results of the county council elections, she will now review her policy of making cuts in these services.

Miss Horsbrugh

No, Sir. I invited local education authorities to co-operate with me in reducing the rate of increase in their expenditure as shown in the forecasts for 1952–53 and concentrating their resources on the essentials of the education service. I can find no grounds for reviewing this policy.

Mr. Fletcher

But is the right hon. Lady not aware that the education cuts were a dominant issue in many of the county council elections, particularly in London, and in view of the overwhelming Labour success throughout the country, is it not the duty of the right hon. Lady to review her whole policy and have regard to the determination of public opinion that the educational services shall be maintained and increased?

Miss Horsbrugh

When the hon. Member speaks of cuts, he realises that a great many people who did not take the trouble to understand my circular thought that there was going to be a decrease in local authority spending on education this year as compared with last year. The people in London were not fully informed that the real situation was that there was an increase of expenditure by the local education authorities this year of £14 million, which is an increase of over 5 per cent., and not a decrease.

Sir Harold Webbe

Is the Minister aware that any effect that these educational proposals may have had on the election in London is due simply to the gross misrepresentation which has been going on for so many years, and which is characteristic of the Socialist Party?

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

Is the Minister aware that the answer that she gave to my previous Question on the subject of school fares shows that there was an attempt on the part of her Department to persuade the London County Council to effect a rather nauseating economy at the expense of children under eight years of age, and either make them walk the whole distance to school or pay all or part of the fare, and that she has now changed her mind?

Miss Horsbrugh

No. I should like to make it quite clear to the hon. and gallant Gentleman that it is not a case of changing my mind. I asked the local authorities to look into the subject of their transport charges, which my predecessor two years ago said were much too high, and which are higher now. The London County Council have sent me a statement of certain things that they wish to continue to do. I have acknowledged their letter, and I have not directed that there should be changes where they make slight alterations or variations for school children of certain ages.

Mr. Shinwell

Am I to understand from what the right hon. Lady has said, and from the cheers which greeted some of her observations, that the Government are not the least disturbed by the results of the County Council elections?

Miss Horsbrugh

I am not in the least disturbed that some people say there has been a cut in expenditure in education, because I know that that is completely untrue. There has been an increase.