HC Deb 08 February 1968 vol 758 cc631-3
12. Mr. J. E. B. Hill

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will state, with dates and amounts, on which previous occasions has an increase in the capitation grant for direct grant schools consequent upon a rise in teachers' salaries been allowed or refused.

Mr. Gordon Walker

Since 1945, when the rate of grant was £16 per pupil, or about one-fifth the present average rate, an increase has been made following 10 of the 11 occasions when teachers' salaries were increased. But the proportion of additional costs taken into account fell progressively from 100 per cent. up to 1955 to about 40 per cent. in 1963 and 1965. I am circulating details in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Hill

Does not that demonstrate that the present under-recoupment amounting to about £20 a place plus the further cuts amounting to about another £20 a place put a wholly savage discriminatory burden not only on these schools, which have neither enough profit-making ability nor enough reserves, but also on the children in them and on their parents?

Mr. Walker

No, Sir; I do not think so. In difficult times like these, everyone must make a contribution. As the hon. Gentleman knows, parents below a certain income level have all their fees repaid. Above that, parents who can afford to pay for their children are receiving a subsidy of £58 a year, and this, in present circumstances, seems quite enough towards the payment of school fees. Many parents who are not entitled to that sort of thing would be happy to have a subsidy of £58 for each child.

Sir E. Boyle

What will be the cost of the extra burden on local authorities caused by the Government's recent cut in capitation grants, bearing in mind particularly those local authorities which have to provide for large numbers of Catholic children?

Mr. Walker

A large part of the charge does fall on local education authorities, which, on the other hand, do not have to keep the children at maintained schools. I have not got the figure in my head. On Wednesday, perhaps, when we may be discussing broader matters, I shall be able to give the right hon. Gentleman the information.

Following are the details:

Annual rates of grant per pupil
Year of Burnham Salary Award Grant for each pupil Additional grant for each sixth form pupil
£ £
1948 20 0
1951 26 0
1952 28 5
1954 28 5 20
1955 30 0 40
1956 36 0 40
1959 39 0 66
1961 43 0 81
1963 45 0 84
1965 52 0 84
1967 52 0 84

16. Mr. Christopher Price

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will withdraw direct grant status from all such schools failing to co-operate with their local education authorities over comprehensive reorganisation as outlined in Circular 10/65.

Mr. Gordon Walker

No, Sir. Decisions of this kind must await the recommendations of the Public Schools Commission.

Mr. Price

While many direct grant schools, particularly the Roman Catholic ones, are co-operating well on comprehensive reorganisation, is it right that just those schools which are sabotaging the national policy for comprehensive education should benefit from this unselective fiat-rate advantage, which all research has shown goes to the better-off parents?

Mr. Walker

I agree that some of these schools have been extremely helpful. Some have been less so, though in some cases there are real difficulties because of the size of the schools involved. On the general principle which my hon. Friend has raised, he will remember my answers to another Question, No. 12, today. The subsidy is certainly less than it was.

Mr. Hornby

Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that he is giving very unsatisfactory answers when questions regarding direct grant schools are raised with him, bearing in mind that twice in recent months, since handing the matter over to the Newsom Commission, he has taken specific decisions to their disadvantage?

Mr. Walker

No, Sir; I do not think so. I think that I have been behaving just about reasonably right in this matter.