HC Deb 02 March 1967 vol 742 cc689-90
23. Mr. Hiley

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will take steps to ensure that there are sufficient books to go round in schools; and what methods he proposes to use to achieve this.

Mrs. Shirley Williams

It is for local education authorities to ensure that there are enough books in the schools and I believe that in general they take this responsibility very seriously.

Mr. Hiley

Is the hon. Lady aware that in Leeds, at any rate, the education committee has not sufficient funds to enable some grammar schools to have the books which they require unless the Department is prepared to spend more money for the purchase of books? Would she consider a suggestion that parents should provide their children with the books which are so indispensable to our education system?

Mrs. Williams

The hon. Gentleman may like to know that the expenditure on books in 1964–65 was over £10 million. There are more books in schools at present than ever before. Arrangements have been made to make loans to local education authorities, if required. But, fundamentally, this is a matter which rests with local education authorities. The Plowden Report made certain recommendations affecting books, and those recommendations, we feel sure, will be closely paid attention to by local education authorities.

Mr. Charles Morrison

Is the hon. Lady aware that it is extremely difficult for local education authorities to fulfil their responsibilities for books when they have to suffer from an imposed cut in their estimates upon which rate support grant is based?

Mrs. Williams

I can only say that the indications that expenditure on books is steadily going up would not appear to bear that out.