HC Deb 10 April 1973 vol 854 cc1110-1
2. Mr. Horam

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what proportion of the spending on educational priority areas is in the Northern Region: and how this compares with other regions.

3. Mr. Radice

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how expenditure on education priority areas in the Northern Region compares with that in other regions.

Mrs. Thatcher

Educational priority areas have not been designated as such. The sum of £7.9 million has been approved for educational projects in England under the urban programme and £1.25 million or 16 per cent. of that total has been allocated to the Northern Region where the pupils in maintained primary and secondary schools represent 7.7 per cent. of all pupils in such schools.

With permission, I will circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT details of the amounts allocated to the other regions.

Mr. Horam

Does the Secretary of State agree that the total spending on positive discrimination as such nationwide cannot be more than about £10 million in a year? The Government have just given mortgage borrowers £15 million for three months. Does not that show that educational priority is a sham? When will the Minister put real resources behind the programme?

Mrs. Thatcher

I think that the hon. Gentleman is criticising his own Government for the smallness of their assistance. I have carried out precisely the urban programme for the education services in conjunction with the Home Office. As to the regional figures, the Northern Region has had a fairly big share of the available money.

Mr. Radice

Is the right hon. Lady aware that the North is an area of exceptional need, as shown by the fact that, according to recent statistics, over 50 per cent. of school leavers there left without a pass grade in any national examination? Does she realise that educational progress in the North, as elsewhere, is being held up by the unrealistic cost yardstick applied by her Department?

Mrs. Thatcher

The cost yardstick does not, I think, come under the urban programme but comes under the capital school building programme. If the hon. Gentleman looks at all the figures in the whole table, he will find that the Northern Region, in receiving 16 per cent. of the money while having only 7.7 per cent. of the pupils, did as well as, if not better than, any other region.

Mr. Hattersley

In her main answer the right hon. Lady said that educational priority areas have not been designated as such. I urge her again to consider setting objective criteria for determining such areas. How can we ever measure that the right amount of resources is going into educational priority when we do not know which areas should be helped in this way?

Mrs. Thatcher

I repeat that no educational priority areas have ever been designated, but schools of particular difficulty have been designated. There are nearly 600 such schools. It was thought that that was the best way to tackle the problem.

Following is the information:

Region £000s Per cent.
Northern 1,258 16.0
Yorkshire and Humberside 1,107 14.0
North-Western 1,553 19.7
East Midlands 511 6.5
West Midlands 1,239 15.7
East Anglia 28 0.4
Other South East 322 4.1
Greater London 1,643 20.8
Southwestern 222 2.8
Total 7,883 100.0