HC Deb 22 May 1979 vol 967 cc860-1
14. Mr. Dudley Smith

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will initiate a study into the feasibility of transferring the cost of education from the rating system to the national Exchequer.

Mr. Mark Carlisle

I have no plans to do so. Such a transfer would have wide ramifications on the central role of local education authorities as one of the partners in the education service.

Mr. Smith

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that education takes the lion's share of all rating revenue? Would not this be worth an examination, if only to take some steps towards bringing equity into an unhappy rating system?

Mr. Carlisle

I am aware that education takes nearly 50 per cent. of the total expenditure of local authorities. On the other hand, I remind my hon. Friend that, as a party, we have always accepted that education, while a national service, is locally administered; and, of course, all local government finance is supported through the rate support grant.

Mr. Fletcher-Cooke

I agree with my right hon. and learned Friend about primary and secondary education and the dangers of a national education service. Will he preserve an open mind about further education, which is less of a danger, where the local interest is far less than in primary and secondary education?

Mr. Carlisle

I accept that there is a considerable difference between further and primary and secondary education. Certainly I am prepared to look at what my hon. and learned Friend says.

Mr. Hooley

Do the Government intend to abolish the rates, as was firmly promised by the Prime Minister when in opposition?

Mr. Carlisle

We made no such commitment during the election. My answer to my hon. Friend stands.