HC Deb 18 June 1979 vol 968 cc897-9
17. Mr. Barry Jones

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what is his estimate of the effect of the Budget resolutions on the school building programme for Wales.

Mr. Michael Roberts

School building allocations for 1979–80 have been reduced by about 1½ per cent. as part of the expenditure savings announced in the Budget Statement.

Mr. Jones

Are not these serious cuts, and will they not have an injurious effect on the rebuilding and modernisation programme for the primary and secondary schools of Wales? May we have an assurance that there will be no teacher redundancies in Wales because of these cuts?

Mr. Michael Roberts

Clearly, the cuts will affect the primary and secondary programme. That is not a matter for anything but regret to us all. No one can give a guarantee that the totality of the cuts, both the building cuts and the cut in rate support grant, will not affect teacher employment. It may reduce the number of teachers required.

Mr. D. E. Thomas

Will the Minister confirm that the £½ million spending proposed by the previous Government in their Education Bill to enable local authorities to stimulate bilingual education has now been cut? Does he not accept that cuts in public expenditure and social education policy should be confined to those constituencies that voted for the Government?

Mr. Michael Roberts

The allocation for the bilingual grant fell as a result of the general election and the fall of the Education Bill. However, the bilingual grant of £½ million is still under consideration and has not been included in the cuts.

Mr. Kinnock

The hon. Gentleman, a former teacher, said earlier that he regretted the implications of cuts in education expenditure. Is that good enough? There are many areas of social deprivation, both in rural and industrial Wales, that are in desperate need of additional financial allocation, areas such as the Rhymney valley, in which I am particularly interested. Is it not time the hon. Gentleman stood up for his old profession?

Mr. Michael Roberts

I recognise that there are important areas of social deprivation, not only in the Rhymney valley but in most of the constituencies of Wales. It is clear that cuts in education expenditure are bound to affect the education services in those areas. The cuts have been introduced as a general package. Education must expect to take its share when the cuts are made generally across the board.

Mr. Barry Jones

What sum of money do the cuts represent?

Mr. Michael Roberts

The cuts in Wales are £1.3 million.