HC Deb 06 March 1984 vol 55 cc727-8
12. Mr. Flannery

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he has finalised any decisions regarding the future of the Inner London education authority; and if he will make a statement.

Sir Keith Joseph

The Government set out their proposals for the ILEA in the White Paper, "Streamlining the Cities". I am, of course, considering the responses to the White Paper.

Mr. Flannery

Does the Secretary of State realise that I, from the north of England, ask this question about ILEA because of the deep admiration for the work of ILEA that exists throughout the education spectrum? [Interruption.] Will the right hon. Gentleman assure us—I am sure that we shall get no such assurance—that what is about to be done to ILEA is not doctrinaire and vindictive? Can the Minister at least assure me that the splendid work for the disadvantaged that is done in ILEA, and which needs a large number of remedial teachers, because, for instance, of the large number of ethnic groupings, will be continued and that funds will be allowed, no matter what else the Government do with ILEA?

Sir Keith Joseph

I have already paid tribute in the House to some of the innovations and the zeal represented in ILEA. However, I can reassure the hon. Gentleman that the present standard of education—and, I hope, a better one — can be achieved while making economies, particularly in the non-teaching sector, in which ILEA is very extravagant.

Mr. Bottomley

Will my right hon. Friend consider the 11-plus, which ILEA is still using, and will he have discussions with ILEA to see why it persists with a secret test that penalises those parents whose children could do well and then find that they cannot go to the school of their choice?

Sir Keith Joseph

I expect that the Inner London education authority will note my hon. Friend's question, but presumably it is an aspect that the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) admires.

Mr. Dubs

Now that the Secretary of State has had time to consider the many adverse criticisms of the White Paper, will he explain why taking away the democratic rights of the people of inner London to vote for members of the Inner London education authority will in any way help the standards of education in inner London?

Sir Keith Joseph

The Government are in the middle of studying the answers to our consultation paper.

Mr. Tracey

Will my right hon. Friend reassure parents in general in inner London and condemn the scaremongering contained in literature from some local Labour party groups, and even County Hall?

Sir Keith Joseph

Scaremongering is the right word. Economies can be made by ILEA without any damage to the quality of education.

Mr. Radice

In view of the high standards maintained by ILEA and the overwhelming hostility to the Government's proposals, which, I believe, the Secretary of State has already admitted to the House, is it not time that the right hon. Gentleman cleared that banana skin out of the way of the Prime Minister?

Sir Keith Joseph

I have paid tribute to the quality of ILEA's education. I pay tribute to its zeal and some of its innovations, but the quality of education does not reflect ILEA's extravagant spending.