HC Deb 05 May 1971 vol 816 cc1348-9
4. Mr. Clark Hutchison

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he has completed his review of the financial situation of grant-aided schools in Scotland; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Edward Taylor

My right hon. Friend has made regulations which will enable him to increase the present fixed grants so as to take account of rises since October, 1969 in the level of relevant costs. He is still considering the longterm grant arrangements in consultation with the schools.

Mr. Clark Hutchison

Does my hon. Friend realise that that is a very satisfactory Answer? Will he step up the grants as much as possible, remembering the value of these schools and the good products which come from them? Will he settle the question fairly quickly, as a number of parents are anxious?

Mr. Taylor

We appreciate that this is an urgent matter. It was because of some of the factors mentioned by my hon. Friend that the Government acted as they did.

Mr. Sillars

Does not the hon. Gentleman think that it is advisable to review his Education (Scotland) Bill concerning fee-paying schools, especially in the light of the personal rebuffs which he and his followers suffered in the Cathcart constituency last night?

Mr. Taylor

I am very touched by the hon. Gentleman's sympathetic reference to what happened in my constituency. He cannot have looked at the whole picture or he would have noted the result in the Langside ward, where we had a near-record majority.

Mr. MacArthur

Will my hon. Friend ignore that comment from the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Sillars) and devote himself, as he has done so admirably, to the defence of the variety of choice of Scottish education, which is one of the largest attractions which we have to offer and which has been at the root of the success of education in Scotland over the years?

Mr. Taylor

I certainly agree that there is a real place for the grant-aided schools in Scotland, and the measures which we have taken have been fully justified.

Mr. Ross

Was not one reason for the Tories justifiably doing so lamentably in Scotland yesterday that they robbed Scottish education of free milk for primary schools and effectively deprived pupils of school meals to subsidise snobbery in fee-paying schools?

Mr. Taylor

The right hon. Gentleman's assessment of the situation is absolutely outrageous. Surely he knows that the responsible and sympathetic policy of the Government is to give assistance and welfare to those in need. The right hon. Gentleman will be aware that the new arrangements will offer free school meals to a larger proportion of pupils.