HC Deb 08 July 1971 vol 820 cc1504-5
18. Mr. Deakins

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how much is spent on books annually for each student in polytechnics; and what is the comparable figure for universities.

Mr. van Straubenzee

In 1968–69 current expenditure by the universities averaged £10.65 per student on the purchase of books. I have no comparable figure for polytechnics or other Further Education colleges.

Mr. Deakins

Is it not disturbing that the Secretary of State has no figures for spending on books in one of the two main branches of higher education in this country? If such figures were available, would they not clearly show that the amount spent on books in polytechnics is very much less than the amount spent on books in universities? Would the right hon. Lady not agree that this is no way of providing the further number of students which is needed in higher education, and that we should provide appropriate facilities regardless of whether students are at polytechnics or at universities?

Mr. van Straubenzee

I am not trying to evade the question, but my difficulty is that in the year of which I can speak there were only four polytechnics. This is such a new development that statistics are in an early stage.

Mr. Alan Williams

Would it not be an easy operation for the Department to approach the 30 polytechnics to establish the current position or the situation which applied last year? If the polytechnics are not to become the secondary moderns of the educational system, these matters should not be masked by the working of the binary system.

Mr. van Straubenzee

Since this is a local authority system, it has not been the practice of successive Governments to send for full statistics of this kind. I have no doubt that as the system proceeds we shall be able to compare like with like; increased emphasis is being given to the capital works programme in polytechnic libraries, which I accept is a very important matter.