HC Deb 16 December 1985 vol 89 c126 11·25 pm
The Minister of State, Department of Education and Science (Mr. Chris Patten)

I beg to move, That the draft Education Support Grants (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 1985, which were laid before this House on 27 November, be approved. The draft regulations amend the Education Support Grants Regulations 1984 so as to add one further item to the purposes for which my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Education and Science and for Wales may pay grant. The additional purpose is securing the supervision of pupils in schools at midday". My right hon. Friends have consulted the Association of County Councils, the Association of Metropolitan Authorities and the Welsh Joint Education Committee about their proposals. Those associations raised no objections to the amendment effected by the draft regulations.

There has already been considerable debate in the House on our proposal to pay education support grants for midday supervision. I do not want to flog an argument which has long since been deceased. Therefore, I shall concentrate on two points which have a particular bearing on the draft regulations.

First, I shall explain more fully the resources which the Government are making available for this purpose. We shall add £10 million to relevent expenditure for local authorities in this financial year. The aggregate of Exchequer grants to local authorities will be increased by £7 million, representing 70 per cent. of the total which will be supported through education support grants, if the draft regulations are approved. For next year, the sums involved are £40 million and £28 million respectively. Those additions for 1986–87 can be made available only if the Education (Amendment) Bill, which the House has just read a Third time, receives Royal Assent.

Secondly, hon. Members may welcome some information about the nature of new arrangements which might result from our proposals. The description in the amendment regulations is deliberately drawn widely. My right hon. Friends have no wish to prescribe the details of any arrangements which local education authorities consider suitable for their authorities and schools. Before approving expenditure for education support grant, they will wish to be sure that the proposed arrangements satisfy a few simple criteria. Those criteria are described in the draft circular, a copy of which is in the Library.

We have received some helpful comments on the draft circular from the local authority and teacher associations, and others who were invited to comment, and we will look at the draft again in the light of those comments. If the regulations receive the approval of Parliament, we shall issue the circular to all local education authorities inviting them to submit proposals for approval for education support grant. Our aim is that grant should be payable on expenditure incurred from the beginning of the spring term so that authorities may move ahead quickly with their plans to provide proper supervision at midday.

I ask the House to approve the amendment regulations.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved, That the draft Education Support Grants (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 1985, which were laid before this House on 27th November, be approved.