HC Deb 22 November 1962 vol 667 cc1386-7
19. Sir Richard Pilkington

asked the Minister of Education what percentage of the national income was spent on education in 1951 and 1961, respectively.

Mr. Chataway

I refer my hon. Friend to the Answer my right hon. Friend gave on 26th July to my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, North (Mr. Iremonger), which showed that the percentage of the gross national product spent on education in the United Kingdom rose from 3.1 in 1951 to an estimated figure of 4.4 per cent. in 1961.

Sir Richard Pilkington

Does my hon. Friend agree that the record of the Government in this respect is a very fine one indeed?

Mr. Chataway

Yes, I agree with my hon. Friend.

Mrs. White

Does not the hon. Gentleman recognise that the change in the balance of the population between those dates made it absolutely essential that we should spend more of our income on education?

Mr. Sydney Irving

Does the Parliamentary Secretary appreciate that these figures have no significance unless they are related to need? When they are related to need, is it not quite clear that the Government are at every stage of education a long way from meeting the need to provide full educational opportunities?

Mr. Chataway

I find it difficult to follow that supplementary question. The total gross national product is not related to need. These figures clearly show that an appreciably higher proportion of our national wealth is today devoted to education.

Sir C. Osborne

Will my hon. Friend not be put off by the "sour-grapes" attitude of the Opposition?

Mr. Callaghan

If the Opposition cannot shake the intolerable complacency shown on the benches opposite about this matter, I can assure the Government that the people of this country will. [Interruption.] Do not the Minister and his supporters realise that there is a grave problem here in a large number of older schools which have overcrowding and bad facilities and where a great deal more needs to be done, and that this insufferable giggling by the Government supporters is getting more than we can bear?

Mr. Chataway

I do not mean to imply any complacency. It is expected that for the current financial year the percentage will rise again to 4.6.

Mr. Holt

Is not this a lower percentage than that of any other nation in Western Europe with a standard of living similar to that of Britain?

Mr. Chataway

That I most certainly do not accept. It is in fact a higher proportion than that of any country in Western Europe with the possible exception of Sweden.