HC Deb 25 November 1980 vol 994 cc305-6
3. Mrs. Renee Short

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science, pursuant to his reply to the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, North-East on 24 June, if he will now begin to collect figures for the expenditure on books by each education authority.

Mr. Mark Carlisle

These figures are included in local authorities' consolidated returns of expenditure to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment and taken into account in the calculation of block grant. They are also the source for the expenditure statistics published by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, to which the hon. Member's attention has already been drawn.

Mrs. Short

Does not the Minister think that it is time that he took some responsibility for monitoring the cuts that he has inflicted on the education service? Does not he think that it is a matter of public importance for him to be able to give this information, otherwise how does he expect to be able to improve the standards of education?

Mr. Carlisle

We have a responsibility to monitor what is happening throughout the country. I accept that entirely. I do not think that it is right to expect the Department to collect figures of the type for which the hon. Lady is asking for each individual education authority, particularly when they are available from other sources.

Mr. Jim Marshall

Does the Secretary of State understand that the capitation allowance for the replacement of books, among other things, is now becoming wholly inadequate, and that, unless it is increased, the standard of education in our comprehensive schools and in other sectors of education will begin to decline, and that it will not be the fault of the local authorities but will be his fault and the fault of his Government and Department?

Mr. Carlisle

I realise that there is a degree of concern about the level of capitation in local authority areas. We assumed within the last year's relevant expenditure a slight increase in that expenditure. In practice, it has not worked out in that way, and local authorities continue to have the responsibility of the detailed division of the money with which they are provided, although I accept that the Government have total responsibility for the overall volume of that money, and I have never attempted to deny that.

Mr. Kinnock

With regard to the monitoring of cuts, will the Secretary of State tell us when we can expect to have the statement arising from yesterday's mini Budget, which was promised in the Treasury document? Secondly, will the Secretary of State say whether he will permit or encourage—whichever is the more appropriate—the publication of Her Majesty's inspec—tors' report on the effect of cuts on the standards of provision in our schools? Will be accept or deny responsibility for holding that up? I shall be delighted if he can deny that responsibility.

Thirdly, the inspectors have conducted an exercise in the validation of the block grant exercise inside the Department of Education and Science, in which they apparently relate rising standards in performance in education to rising standards in provision of resources. Will be encourage or permit that HMI report to be published?

Mr. Carlisle

I shall deal with the hon. Gentleman's questions in reverse order. I should have thought that the one thing that clearly came out of the recently published report of the inspectorate into the ILEA is that there is very little relationship between the level of financial provision and the level of educational quality.

I am not aware that I have personally held up the publication of any report. I shall consider what the hon. Gentleman has said. If it is appropriate that it should be published, I shall do so. If not, I shall write to the hon. Gentleman about it.

With regard to the hon. Gentleman's first question, the answer at this moment must be that I am not today in a position to make such a statement. The Government will now have to consult the local authority associations about the impact of the cuts announced yesterday on particular services. That consultation will have to take place before the rate support grant settlement next month.

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