HC Deb 04 February 1981 vol 998 cc296-306 3.40 pm
The Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. Mark Carlisle)

With permission, I wish to make a statement on the outcome of the Government's inquiry into the future of the Inner London Education Authority.

ILEA is the largest local education authority in England. Among such authorities its composition is unique. It precepts freely and without restraint on the ratepayers of the inner London boroughs and the City of London. In practice, it spends much more money per pupil than any other English authority without thereby achieving a satisfactory performance for many of its schools, particularly its secondary schools, as was shown in the HMI report on ILEA. The purpose of the inquiry was to see whether this situation could be improved by altering the constitutional arrangements for providing education in inner London.

The fundamental issue for the inquiry was whether ILEA should be broken up. There is a case for giving some responsibility for education to the inner London boroughs. There is also a case for retaining a single authority in the light of London's past development and its system of local government. But the overriding factors are educational and financial. The weight of educational opinion, including the voluntary bodies and the churches, is that the problems of inner London call for a single authority of adequate size and with adequate resources to administer its schools as well as further and higher education, and the careers service; and that responsibility for the schools should not be separated from the rest of education. The Government share that view.

This does not mean that the single authority has to be extravagant. That was one of the lessons to be learnt from the HMI report. The Government's public expenditure plans require local authority current expenditure on education in England to go down by about 7 per cent. in real terms between 1978–79 and 1981–82. ILEA has not made the response which could reasonably have been expected from an authority whose expenditure exceeds its needs by far more than any other education authority, on the basis of the assessment used for the distribution of block grant. It is apparently planning to spend next year almost as much in real terms as it did in 1978–79, although between 1978–79 and 1981–82 BLEA's pupil numbers will have fallen by some 13 per cent.

In that event ILEA would be likely to receive very little grant in 1981–82. The reason is simple. The block grant system ensures that an authority that acts irresponsibly cannot do so at the expense either of the taxpayers or of the ratepayers of authorities beyond its boundaries.

The long-term retention of the single education authority for inner London is justified only if the authority shows that it can give the children and students of inner London a good service in all phases of education at an acceptable cost. It is up to ILEA to put its house in order. It must recognise that the right to precept entails the obligation to spend responsibly. If ILEA systematically abuses the rating system by unchecked extravagance, additional financial controls will be needed. The Government are now considering what further measures they would take to meet that situation.

Mr. Neil Kinnock (Bedwellty)

Does the Secretary of State accept that we, together with millions of parents, children, teachers and others concerned with education in London, are relieved by rather than grateful for this statement? Does he further accept that his announcement of the obvious and sensible was spoilt by the grudging and graceless way in which he made the statement and by the insults and threats that further disfigured it? Why was it necessary to go through the spurious exercise of the Baker report? Why was it necessary to make a desperate effort to find some way of justifying the Tories' prejudices against ILEA, which was the whole purpose of the Young report. Was it because of the power of a few Tory-controlled inner London boroughs that wanted to secede from their responsibility to fund education in London, or was it because of the Prime Minister's obsessive dislike for ILEA and her determination to break it up?

May I correct some of the deliberate misrepresentations that have occurred even in the right hon. and learned Gentleman's short statement? Is the Secretary of State aware that ILEA is not unique in its ability to make precepts? That is common to all education authorities. ILEA is unique only in the democratic respect that the boroughs have direct access to the education authority. [Interruption.] I have gote the statement in front of me. That is not what the Secretary of State said, or wrote, on previous occasions.

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that Her Majesty's Inspectorate commended many schools and teachers, and that it also commended many of ILEA's practices in schools and in other aspects of its educational provision? Why did not the right hon. and learned Gentleman see fit to echo that commendation in any of his statements? Does he think that any complaints that he might have about educational standards in ILEA will be lessened by the £200 million cuts that he wishes to make through the ridiculous system of the block grant?

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that, per pupil, expenditure in ILEA is higher because the needs of this vast city are greater than those in many other parts of the country? Does not the right hon. and learned Gentleman know that London has a greater burden to bear in terms of multi-racial educational requirements and social deprivation? Does he realise that London has a larger proportion of one-parent and transitory families, which necessitates extra attention being paid to educatonal expenditure? Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman live in the same never-never land as the person who dreamt up the block grant system and grant-related expenditure?

Much of the right hon. and learned Gentleman's statement concentrated on the block grant. Is he aware that ILEA has calculated that its needs for next year will amount to £694 million net of the effect of falling rolls? Does he think that the Government's calculation that ILEA needs only £468 million—£226 million less—and that it can bear a 27 per cent. cut can be defended on any grounds? [Interruption.] In that case, ILEA has got it wrong. Indeed, the accountants, the chief executives and all the commentators who have made analyses of those figures have got it wrong. I suspect that the Secretary of State has got it hideously wrong, and he knows it.

How could that cut be defended? How could a cut of 27 per cent. be justified when falling rolls amount to only 13 per cent.? Even if we were to use the Government's figure of £598 million as the amount that could be allocated to ILEA, is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that ILEA would still lose £55 million on top of cuts of £96 million? In the words of the chief education officer and many others, ILEA could not even discharge its legal educational responsibilities.

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman really saying that ILEA should be so hammered as to make it~ [Interruption.] I realise that Conservative Members do not like hearing the truth about one of their pet nostrums for the usefulness of ILEA, especially when it is becoming apparent that the nostrum is a load of superstitious nonsense. If the Secretary of State is lecturing ILEA about abuses and irresponsibility, how much more irresponsible would it be for it to fail to discharge its legal obligations?

The right hon. and learned Gentleman said in his statement The long-term retention of the single education authority for inner London is justified only". Is that a threat of a further prospect of disruption, instability and demoralisation for parents, teachers and pupils within ILEA?

Finally, when he asks ILEA to put its house in order, is he aware that but for the resistance of the Inner London Education Authority and its members to the cuts that the Government are imposing upon them it would be a question not of putting its house in order but of the demolition of education and standards of education in inner London as we know them and as we need to see them developed?

Mr. Carlisle

The hon. Gentleman has asked me a fair number of questions. I do not blame him for that. I shall do my best to answer them. I hope that he will forgive me if I do not answer all his questions completely. I shall try to deal with them in order.

First, the hon. Gentleman said that my statement included insults and prejudices towards inner London. I do not accept that. The concern that existed in inner London, especially about its expenditure and the nature of its education performance in certain areas, was recognised, or should have been, in an area far wider than these Benches. To say that we are being merely insulting and prejudiced ignores the genuine concern felt by many thousands of parents in the inner London area.

Secondly, the hon. Gentleman asked me why we decided to set up an internal Government inquiry into the working of the Inner London Education Authority. The reasons were twofold. First, the inquiry was a response to the concern that from time to time has been expressed about inner London. It was carried out to ascertain whether the composition of ILEA could be improved in a way that would affect those concerned. Secondly, I remind the hon. Gentleman that the 1963 Act, which set up ILEA, proposed that the authority should be reviewed at the end of 10 years. It was the Labour Party that chose to change that statutory proposal. We believed that it was right to carry out the review that the London Government Act originally proposed.

The hon. Gentleman accused me of inaccuracies. He said that I said in my statement that the Inner London Education Authority was unique in that it had the right to precept and that I should know that every authority has that right. If he had read my statement, he would have realised that I said exactly the reverse. I said that ILEA was unique—he went on to admit this—in its composition. That is clearly so, and that is what my statement said.

I have rather lost the purport of the hon. Gentleman's next question He asked a question that I cannot remember in detail about the report of Her Majesty's Inspectorate. Anybody reading that statement would recognise that, while it pays tribute to the standards of the Inner London Education Authority in further and higher education, it is somewhat critical of special schools, it is critical in part of primary schools, and it is certainly critical of the performance in secondary schools. Those who represent those who ran ILEA do them no good by ignoring the criticisms that have been made. The greatest help that the hon. Gentleman could give to the children of inner London would be to support the report of Her Majesty's Inspectorate and to encourage those who run ILEA to learn the messages in the report.

The hon. Gentleman turned to expenditure. As I understand his argument, he contends that inner London is not really very expensive compared with other areas——

Mr. Kinnock

I did not say that.

Mr. Carlisle

—because it has greater social needs. Whether the hon. Gentleman likes the grant-related expenditure system of evaluation or whether he does not, the fact is that it is based on the same system throughout the country and takes into account varying social needs. If he tells me that the expenditure of inner London, which is 50 per cent. above the average expenditure in the rest of the country, is due to special problems, let us compare some of the other inner city areas such as Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham. The expenditure per pupil in inner London is substantially in excess of those in other inner city areas.

I shall try to answer all the hon. Gentleman's questions, but, as I said, he asked me a great many of them. He said that the Inner London Education Authority proposes to spend £694 million this year. If that is the decision that its budget committee takes next week, it means that despite a 13 per cent. reduction in the number of pupils, and despite the economic climate, it has not made any attempt to save one penny in terms of real expenditure compared with three years ago. At a time when almost all other authorities, Labour as well as Conservative, are attempting to make savings that are consistent with the economic situation, it is a pity that the hon. Gentleman should apparently give support to the proposal of ILEA not to make any savings despite the reduction in pupil numbers, which is about twice that experienced in other parts of the country.

The hon. Gentleman asked me whether I believed that a 27 per cent. cut was possible in one year. Of course I do not believe that. I accept that the historical pattern of spending in London has been far greater than in other areas. No one suggests for a moment that it is possible to achieve a 27 per cent. reduction. However, if ILEA were to consider its budget seriously against the background of a decreasing number of pupils, as other authorities are doing, I believe that it could make savings. For every £7 million of savings—just 1 per cent.—it would receive an additional £4 million in grant from the Government.

Sir Brandon Rhys William (Kensington)

Will my right hon. and learned Friend accept that parents in inner London, as well as ratepayers, will know that his decision to retain a single unitary authority for education in inner London has been based on a balanced and detailed assesment of the pros and cons and will be accepted as such? Does he realise that ILEA's intention to spend its way out through the top of eligibility for block grant will create an intolerable situation for ratepayers in inner London in the coming year? Therefore, will he proceed at once to place an upper limit on ILEA's expenditure in the coming year and not merely to rest on threats that if it overspends the Government may reconsider their decision at some future date?

Mr. Carlisle

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for what he said about the general decision to retain a unitary authority, which I believe to be right, and for expressing concern for the ratepayers of London, bearing in mind the amount of expenditure apparently carried out by ILEA. It would be wrong, on what may be a hypothetical basis, to draw me further at this stage than what I said in the statement, namely, that, if ILEA chooses to abuse the rating system in drawing its money, the Government recognise that additional financial controls will be needed and are considering all the possible options.

Mr. Ronald W. Brown (Hackney, South and Shoreditch)

Will the Secretary of State review his statement that ILEA is doing nothing to help in this respect? In my constituency, it proposes to close three schools, and that has now been agreed. What the Minister has said is therefore not true. Does he understand that if he really wanted to investigate ILEA he could have set up an inquiry so to do? What he did was to use his own party machine, through the so-called Baker report, to make an unwarranted attack on ILEA based on false information and he has now made the right decision in the wrong way.

Mr. Carlisle

With great respect, the hon. Gentleman is not quite right. I shall deal with his second point first. The committee under the chairmanship of my hon. Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Baker) was a party committee which produced a party report. Arising out of that and the general concern expressed, the Government decided to hold their own internal investigation at governmental level. What I am announcing is the result of that Government inquiry, not the result of the party review.

On the hon. Gentleman's first point, I do not have the figures at my fingertips, but he must realise that the fall in numbers in Hackney in particular is enormous. When I said that the authority was apparently attempting to make no savings, I was really quoting back to the hon. Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Kinnock) the figure of £694 million to which he appeared to give credence, which I am advised means no net savings as against 1978–79 expenditure if it is computed to those terms.

Mr. David Mellor (Putney)

I thank my right hon. and learned Friend for his decision to retain ILEA as a single unit, a decision with which, as he knows, I completely agree. I wish to raise two points.

First, will my right hon. and learned Friend continue to work for a solution of the precepting problem? The ILEA precepting powers may look wonderful from Bedwellty, but they do not look so wonderful from Putney, where my constituents are having to pay a 25 per cent. rate increase at a time when rolls are falling as a result of ILEA's financial irresponsibility.

Secondly, will my right hon. and learned Friend confirm that the import of the final part of his statement was to make it clear to the present political masters of ILEA that he will continue to take an interest in their activities, particularly in view of their manifesto commitment, just published, to abolish streaming in secondary schools, to abolish single-sex and denominational education and to recognise the Trotskyist National Union of School Students—things that are so utterly disreputable educationally that there may be a similar outcry next year for him to look at the matter again?

Mr. Carlisle

I thank my hon. Friend for his approving comments on the Government's decision.

With regard to precepting, I have made it clear that the Government are concerned if ILEA is to use its power in a way that abuses the rating system. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment, in the context of his review of the rating system generally, is considering what additional steps should be taken in relation to those local authorities, including ILEA, whose expenditure is excessive. I should have thought that it was fair, at a time when concern has been expressed about the pressure upon the private sector of our economy, to remind rating authorities that a high proportion of that which they precept falls upon business and industry throughout the city and is a burden which they can hardly bear at this time. That is something that should be taken into account.

On my hon. Friend's second point, I have made it clear that we shall continue to keep under review both ILEA's financial prudence and its education services. As I said to the hon. Member for Bedwellty, I hope very much that ILEA and its officers will take account of the comments made in the HMI report and will take advantage of them. The manifesto to which my hon. Friend referred is only a draft manifesto. Nevertheless, like my hon. Friend, I must admit that one is appalled at some of the proposals, apparently contained in the Labour Party's draft manifesto, of the type that my hon. Friend highlighted. I cannot believe that those proposals would be to the advantage of the education of children in inner London, which is what, in the end, should concern us all.

Several Hon. Members rose

Mr. Speaker

Order. I want to call as many right hon. and hon. Members as I can, but we must have shorter questions and answers.

Mr. Douglas Jay (Battersea, North)

In the interests of economy, can the Minister say how much public money and administrative time have been wasted by the stirring up of this wholly unnecessary controversy?

Mr. Carlisle

I should have thought that the sum was very small. It was a review at Minister of State level, which then reported in one document to the Cabinet as a whole.

Mr. A. J. Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed)

Is not the Minister rather pleased that on this occasion he has defeated the Prime Minister who, together with a number of Conservative Members, was determined to break up the education system of inner London? If he is worried about accountability, why does he not go for a directly elected ILEA, with a fair system of election?

Mr. Carlisle

I do not, of course, accept the hon. Gentleman's first point. We reviewed the whole working of inner London, and the decision taken to retain a unitary authority was a decision of the Government as a whole.

On the second point, we considered the question of a directly elected authority.

Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham, South)

It is.

Mr. Carlisle

Perhaps I may put it another way. It might be said that a directly elected authority increases democratic control—it clearly weakens financial control if that directly elected authority has no means of having to assess the expenditure on education against the demands placed upon ratepayers by the other services within London.

Mr. Martin Stevens (Fulham)

I join those who have congratulated my right hon. and learned Friend on the decision that he has taken, which was in accordance with my own views. Will he look again at the position of primary and secondary schools, having regard to the need to bring their management closer to local parents? In particular, will he consider devolving the appointment of head teachers from ILEA centrally to what are now 10 ILEA divisions?

Mr. Carlisle

Obviously I am concerned to get the greatest possible involvement of people at local level with the schools to which their children go. Within the concept of a unitary authority, certainly I should be prepared to give consideration to any proposal put forward by any of my hon. Friends or, indeed, any hon. Member opposite which they felt achieved that end. However, I think that one tends to ignore the increasing role that we are encouraging parents to take in the schools, both in inner London and elsewhere. I believe that parents should be actively involved in encouraging higher standards in the schools.

Mr. Spearing

In his statement the Secretary of State used the word "abuse" in conjunction with 13 per cent. expenditure. Will he tell us which items he would exclude in that 13 per cent., either now or later? If he cannot, does he agree that he should withdraw the use of the word "abuse".

Mr. Carlisle

When I referred to the question of ILEA choosing systematically to abuse the rating system, I meant that it has the power—not unique, I accept—to precept on the ratepayers of the inner London boroughs. It seems to me that that takes with it a responsibility, when the authority is not directly elected in exactly the same way as other education authorities, to recognise the needs and concern of the ratepayers. Frankly, I believe that ILEA's expenditure is so greatly above the average for the rest of the country that there must be room to make some responsible savings.

Mr. William Shelton (Streatham)

Does my right hon. and learned Friend accept that he is to be congratulated on introducing this review in line with the 1963 Act? He mentioned the HMI report on London. Is he aware that in that report the inspectorate said that mixed ability teaching in inner London did little to help the least able and hindered the most able? Following the question of my hon. Friend the Member for Putney (Mr. Mellor), is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that apparently the imposition of mixed ability teaching is contained in the Labour Party's manifesto for London?

Mr. Carlisle

I am aware that the removal of streaming from schools is in the draft manifesto. Obviously the day-to-day control of schools is a matter for local education authorities and not for the Department. All that I can do is to try to exert what influence I and my Department can by saying that I believe that at secondary school age the interests of the children are not best served merely by having mixed ability teaching.

Mr. Clinton Davis (Hackney, Central)

Does the Secretary of State accept that the overwhelming view of my constituents, expressed at meetings and in letters to me, is that they pay tribute to, and support the work of, ILEA and do not accept the compendium of abuse in which he engaged against that authority? Does he also recognise that ILEA is unique inasmuch as, so far as I know, no other local education authority is confined to an inner city area? In that respect, ILEA has totally different problems from those which the Minister cited.

Mr. Carlisle

I do not accept that. One must remember that outside inner London education is not a metropolitan county responsibility but a borough responsibility. Therefore, one is dealing with inner London as against the borough of Birmingham, borough of Manchester, or borough of Liverpool rather than the surrounding areas. I therefore think that my analogy is fair.

It is not fair to suggest that I have involved myself in a compendium of abuse against ILEA. I made clear the concerns that have been expressed, which led to the setting up of the inquiry. Of course, I accept that the overwhelming volume of opinion of London parents was that they wished to see the retention of a unitary authority, but I question whether they did not accept the need for improvements within that authority.

Mr. Nigel Forman (Carshalton)

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that the two-stage review which has just been concluded was worth while if only to demonstrate to the House and country that no particular pattern of ILEA organisation is sacrosanct, whatever the Socialist Party may say? Can he confirm that he is keeping ILEA under close review? Although there may be overriding educational reasons for maintaining the present structure, many of us are still not satisfied that education in the area is sufficiently accountable, both financially and politi-cally, in a democratic and direct way.

Mr. Carlisle

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. I confirm what I have already said, which is that we believe that a continuation of ILEA depends both on its educational standards and its financial responsibility.

Mr. Christopher Price (Lewisham, West)

The whole House will be grateful that the Secretary of State has succeeded in defeating a combination of the Prime Minister and his own Under-Secretary of State. If he does not think that ILEA should cut by 27 per cent., by what percentage is he asking ILEA to cut this year? As he has a statutory responsibility under section 1 of the 1944 Act to promote—that means to improve—the education of the people of England and Wales, is it fair that he should quote selectively from the HMI report, bearing in mind that his inspectors have never made a report on any other authority? If he were to compare the ILEA report with a similar report on any other urban authority in Britain, does he think that it would be all that different?

Mr. Carlisle

I repeat that I do not believe that we benefit the education of children of inner London by turning a blind eye to what that report said. I do not want to get involved in masses of figures if I can avoid it, but if one looks at the percentage of pupils who leave with no examination results and those who get more than five higher grades at O and CSE level, one will find that the percentage in inner London is considerably lower than the average for the country as a whole. That is a matter of concern to many parents who live in the London area.

I assure the hon. Gentleman that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State and myself work in complete harmony on all occasions, and have done so since 3 May 1979. Although I accept that we cannot expect a reduction of 27.3 per cent. in one year, I regret that ILEA does not appear to have responded in any positive way to the approaches that have been made to it since 1978. Secondly, at the very least one could have expected from ILEA the same degree of effort to reduce its budget that has been achieved in many other parts of the country.

Several Hon. Members rose

Mr. Speaker

Order. If they are brief, I shall call the four hon. Members who have been seeking to catch my eye.

Mr. Thomas Cox (Tooting)

Is the Secretary of State aware that the saddest feature of this whole issue has been the damage which has been caused to teachers, parents and parent-teacher associations, because there was never any support for any of the attempts which the Government have tried to make? As the right hon. and learned Gentleman knows, this all started in Wandsworth, but the leader of Wandsworth council is totally out of touch with the views of the people of Wandsworth. Is he really saying that we must dismiss all the social problems, such as housing and social services, which exist in inner London and watch our education services run down in the same way? London Members will fight such a move. We shall support our local authorities and ILEA in order to protect education services for our children.

Mr. Carlisle

Of course I am not suggesting that, because I do not accept the basis of the hon. Gentleman's question. I do not believe that the hon. Gentleman's colleagues who represent other city areas would suggest that their local authorities were failing to provide an adequate service for the children in those areas commensurate with the burden placed on the ratepayers. But the fact is that such local authorities are providing that service at a considerably lower charge than ILEA. I am not suggesting that one should devastate the education service in London. However, I believe that one can achieve a degree of financial prudence commensurate with a high educational standard.

I think that the hon. Gentleman is totally wrong to suggest that our proposals will cause damage. It is good that we have carried out a review of ILEA and have taken decisions. I believe that the interest which parent-teacher associations, parents and others took when we set up the review is in itself healthy for education in the area.

Mr. Frank Dobson (Holborn and St. Pancras, South)

Does not the Secretary of State accept that although inner London parents, such as myself, who send their children to inner London schools will welcome his belated decision not to dismember ILEA, they will be fearful about the later part of the statement, which seems to suggest that as he is too frightened to dismember it he intends to starve it to death instead?

Mr. Carlisle

I repeat what I said earlier. I should have thought that anyone who represented an inner London constituency and who was concerned at things such as the level of unemployment generally, particularly among youth, would recognise that those who have the right to precept on other's rates also have a responsibility to realise that they should not put too great a burden on those shoulders so as to create greater economic difficulties.

Mr. Alfred Dubs (Battersea, South)

Does not the Secretary of State accept that ILEA members were elected to have responsibility for the education of the children of London? He has suggested that ILEA members should have abdicated that responsibility because of a diktat from him and his colleagues in the Cabinet. Will he look again at the allegation which he made that ILEA has not adjusted its budget to take account of falling rolls? When I last spoke to ILEA it suggested otherwise, and said that it had taken account of the decline in the rolls when setting its budget for the coming year. Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman publish the results of the Government inquiry so that we can all see the basis on which the welcome bit of his decision was made?

Mr. Carlisle

I shall deal with the hon. Gentleman's questions in reverse order.

I see no need to publish anything. My commitment was that after the internal review had taken place I would report the outcome of it. That I have done. I made it clear that had we intended to change the unitary authority, I made it clear that I would have published a document. We have decided not to do so and, therefore, there is no need to publish anything further.

I realise that the figures are disputed by ILEA, but the best advice that I can receive is that the Government's figures are correct.

On the first part of the hon. Member's question, I am grateful to him for raising that point. It is true that every member who is elected to the GLC for the inner London area automatically becomes a member of the Inner London Education Authority. It does not contain the whole of the membership but it contains the majority; it is 35 out of the 48 members, so to that extent it is true that there is direct election. The trouble is that the GLC, as such, is not an education authority and therefore education does not tend to loom large in the issues put forward in the area of the GLC. What the hon. Gentleman said is a useful reminder to people that when they are voting for GLC candidates they are, among other things, voting for a member of the Inner London Education Authority as well as for a member of the GLC.

Mr. Martin Flannery (Sheffield, Hillsborough)

Will the Minister accept from me that there exists wide admiration for ILEA in the provinces as well as in London, and particularly in Sheffield, where educationists want ILEA to be preserved and are therefore glad that it has been kept together? Will he also accept from me that the reason why good authorities are having to put up the rates is precisely because of the actions of central Government? Will he also take note of the fact that he is threatening ILEA, having kept it together, at the same time that £60 million of public money is being filched in order to keep private education and make it more powerful? Educationists throughout the country have taken note of that money disappearing from the public sector.

Mr. Carlisle

As the hon. Gentleman knows, because we have discussed this on many previous occasions, I do not accept the last point that he made. On the other point, of course I recognise that other authorities outside London have views about inner London. He is right to say that among the representations made to the Government about inner London were many from national organisatons as well as those directly involved within the Inner London Education Authority, as I said in my statement.

In regard to the rates, the hon. Gentleman is right in indicating that part of the reduction of the grant going to inner London, which before went through the boroughs but now goes direct to inner London, is caused by the decision to reduce the RSG from 61 per cent. to 60 per cent. It is caused by the decision to shift part of the balance out of London to other parts of the country and in part by the historic overspending in London. I remind the hon. Gentleman, as a person who represents a constituency other than one in inner London, that the shift within the rate support grant of a certain amount of money from London to the rest of the country only partially offset the vast shift done at the cost of the rest of the country into inner London during the period of office of the Labour Government.