HC Deb 25 January 1983 vol 35 cc770-1
3. Mr. Proctor

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will estimate the level of expenditure on the education of ethnic minorities in 1982ߝ83 and 1983ߝ84.

The Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science (Dr. Rhodes Boyson)

Ethnic minority children receive most of their education alongside other children in their ordinary classrooms. The expenditure on them cannot be separately identified.

Mr. Proctor

Does my hon. Friend accept the conclusions of the Conservative political centre's report last year, "Realism about Race", which showed that expenditure on reverse discrimination would be counter-productive to good race relations in this country?

Dr. Boyson

I have not recently read that publication. However, the aim is for all children in schools, whatever their racial origin or background, to receive an education that will equip them to lead a full and useful life in British society.

Mr. Tilley

Why cannot the Minister rebut a little more forcefully the thinly veiled prejudice of his Back Benchers on this issue and admit that a great deal of racial disadvantage exists in our education system, to deal with which expenditure will be necessary? On that specific aspect, will he say how soon he expects the Swann report to be finished and the Government to take action on it?

Dr. Boyson

In the money for grant-related expenditure that goes to all local authorities there is a sum to deal with children from ethnic backgrounds, so extra money is already going in. On the hon. Gentleman's second point, there is extra money. He may not be able to add it up, but it is there. Finally, we are expecting the Swann report this summer, and it will be looked at and discussed as soon as it comes out.

Mr. Stokes

I agree with all that my hon. Friend has said, but will he take the greatest care to see that the special teaching of immigrant children in no way holds back the progress of the rest of the children, including the vast majority of English youngsters?

Dr. Boyson

I believe that the aim of all heads and teachers with ethnic minority children in their classrooms is to ensure the progress of both groups until they can be properly integrated and taught together. The ethnic groups, with their language and numeracy problems, can then move in with the original children—as it were—in the school, and be absorbed and taught as members of the same society.

Mr. Alexander W. Lyon

Does not equal opportunity mean that disproportionate amounts of resources may be allocated to different children according to their needs? If the needs of certain members of the ethnic community show that they are disadvantaged, does it not mean that, to provide equal opportunity, they should be given more resources to overcome those disadvantages so that they can compete effectively? Would that not quell the doubts of the hon. Member for Halesowen and Stourbridge (Mr. Stokes), because the white children in the class would also have a full opportunity to benefit?

Dr. Boyson

If the hon. Gentleman had listened to my answer to his hon. Friend the Member for Lambeth, Central (Mr. Tilley), he would have heard me say that extra money was given in grant-related expenditure to authorities where there were immigrant children. That meets the point that the hon. Gentleman put to me.