HC Deb 15 December 1966 vol 738 cc647-8
29. Mr. Biffen

asked the Secretary of of State for Education and Science it there will be any revision of expected education expenditure for 1969–70 indicated in Command Paper No. 2915 on account of the postponement of the National Plan.

Mr. Crosland

I have nothing to add to my Answer on 3rd November to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Handsworth (Sir E. Boyle).—[Vol. 735. c. 137–8.]

Mr. Biffen

But quite a while has elapsed since then. Is there not now an opportunity for the right hon. Gentleman to state quite clearly whether or not the figures of educational expenditure con- tained in the White Paper were related to the expectation of the economy contained in the National Plan? If not, will he please make this quite clear?

Mr. Crosland

It was made perfectly clear in the National Plan that the figures contained in it were subject to continuous modification in the light of the development of the economy. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that in the last two years since this Government came to power, educational spending has increased by between 5 per cent. and 6 per cent., and is now taking a larger proportion of the national income than two years ago. Further, I can certainly assure him that this improvement will continue, and that we shall not have the occasional cuts in school building programmes, for example, that we had under the previous Government.

Sir E. Boyle

Can the Secretary of State answer this specific question? In the National Plan it was made clear that under the Conservatives expenditure on each child in a primary school had been going up, in real terms, by 5 per cent. a year, and on each child in a secondary school by 10 per cent. a year. Can he say whether the Government's latest proposals for local government finance are consistent with the continuation of that rate of climb in expenditure?

Mr. Crosland

The fact is that at the end of the period of Conservative Government, education was still taking a completely inadequate proportion of the national income. [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] I am happy to say, in answer to the right hon. Gentleman, that in the last two years we have further increased that proportion, and have further increased, which is the precise question he asked, the average standards per pupil in both primary and secondary schools.