HC Deb 11 May 1972 vol 836 cc1529-30
4. Mr. Winterton

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether she will detail the basis upon which the education element of the rate support grant is allocated to local education authorities.

Mrs. Thatcher

The answer would be very long and complex. I shall therefore write to my hon. Friend giving as much information as possible.

Mr. Winterton

I thank my right hon. Friend for her reply and look forward to receiving her letter and its interesting details in due course. Is she aware that certain subjects in a school's curriculum are sadly starved of equipment? I refer to the subject of needlework which is taught in many secondary schools and I would point out that if parents do not supply materials their children are unable to take advantage of the class. Surely this will affect their potential in the marriage stakes later in life.

Mrs. Thatcher

I should not like to be accused of being associated with that idea though, one never knows, they might avoid quite a load of trouble. Needlework and such subjects would come within the category of books and equipment, and my hon. Friend will be aware that once a local education authority has received the rate support grant I have no control over how the money is spent. Account is taken in the rate support grant negotiations of the need to improve the amounts available for equipment both of this and of other kinds.

Mr. Marks

Is the Secretary of State aware that it is not the local education authority which gets the grant but the council? Is she satisfied that the improvements in education for which allowance is made in the rate support grant have been carried out by all councils?

Mrs. Thatcher

I have no authority once the rate support grant has gone to the council. What the hon. Gentleman has said is one reason why we are retaining statutory education authorities under the new Bill, because we feel they will have greater powers to secure provision for the future of education than otherwise would be the case.