HC Deb 22 January 1985 vol 71 cc853-4
11. Mr. Freud

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will make a statement on the current level of and trend in the provision of adult education classes?

Mr. Brooke

Figures of enrolments at local authority adult education centres in England for November 1983 show a rise of some 7 per cent. since November 1981. Enrolments for courses provided by the responsible bodies have similarly risen in recent years.

Mr. Freud

Does the Minister accept that the imposition of VAT on some evening classes undermines his party's commitment to adult education? In view of the negligible income involved and its substantial deterrent effect, will he have a word with the Chancellor with a view to eliminating the VAT charge?

Mr. Brooke

As the hon. Gentleman suggests, this is more a matter for my right hon. Friend the Chancellor. I think that it is generally accepted throughout the adult education service that the effect of the Customs move on VAT has been far less severe than was feared a year ago, before the guidelines were issued and implementation began.

Mr. Dorrell

In view of the prevailing interest in removing rigidities in the labour market, will my hon. Friend consider carefully the opportunities presented by adult education to improve the educational attainment for many people now unemployed and thus improve their job opportunities by improving the match between supply and demand in the labour market?

Mr. Brooke

I entirely endorse what my hon. Friend says. Indeed, it was with that purpose in mind that the Department launched the "Replan" initiative for the adult unemployed.

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