HC Deb 10 June 1980 vol 986 cc279-81
3. Mr. Peter Bottomley

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if any area outside inner London has an education authority similar to the Inner London Education Authority.

The Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. Mark Carlisle)

The ILEA has the same powers and duties under the Education Acts as all English education authorities, but its constitution as defined in the London Government Act 1963 is peculiar to the authority.

Mr. Bottomley

As it has been some time since there has been a serious review of the way in which ILEA is constituted and elected, will my right hon. and learned Friend assure the House that he will do his best to ensure either that education is devolved to local boroughs—who are as competent to deal with that as they are to deal with housing and social services—or that there is a move to direct election to ILEA, so that education issues are not simply subsumed within "Homes before Roads" and other GLC issues?

Mr. Carlisle

As my hon. Friend knows, the Government are internally reviewing matters relating to the administration of education in inner London. Of course, the original intention of the London Government Act 1963 was that this should be reviewed after it had been in operation for a few years.

Mr. Kinnock

Will the Secretary of State take this opportunity to disown the so-called Baker report? If he is unable to do so, will he say how the uproar and the expense of the break-up of ILEA, which has been proposed by some of his hon. Friends, will advance educational interests, or improve the facilities available for the education of the children of London?

Mr. Carlisle

I am not prepared at this stage to disown any report in advance of the review being undertaken by the Government. The criticisms of ILEA are well known, and often expressed—such as accountability and matters of that nature. We are reviewing the administration of education in London to determine whether changes are needed to make it more appropriate to the education provided.

Mr. William Shelton

May I tell my right hon. and learned Friend how much I welcome the review? When does he think it will report?

Mr. Carlisle

I am unable to give my hon. Friend any date. It raises many complex issues. We shall bring on the review as quickly as possible so that any uncertainty will be removed.

Mr. Beith

Will the Secretary of State bear in mind that breaking up ILEA will not only be disruptive to the education of many children but will tend to increase the inequalities between different parts of London? Will he consider carefully the idea that ILEA might be directly elected and, if so, will he ensure that it is done by a fair system?

Mr. Carlisle

I can only repeat my earlier remarks. We are considering many alternative solutions.

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