HC Deb 30 June 1986 vol 100 cc688-9
7. Mr. D. E. Thomas

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what was the total expenditure per pupil in all Welsh schools in 1979, and in the latest year for which figures are available.

Mr. Wyn Roberts

Total net revenue expenditure per pupil in maintained schools was £624 in 1979–80 and £1,066 in 1984–85.

Mr. Thomas

Does the hon. Gentleman still maintain, even after the report he received from Her Majesty's Inspectorate which was an indictment of the state of school building, let along the state of the curciculum, that net expenditure on education by all local authorities in Wales has increased in real terms during his period in office?

Mr. Roberts

Of course I do, because the real-terms equivalent of the figures that I cited on revenue spending per pupil were £949 in 1979–80 and £1,066 in 1984–85—a difference in real terms of £117. I am glad that the hon. Gentleman mentioned the HMI report, but I am sorry that he did not see fit to withdraw his disgraceful allegation that Ministers tampered with it. I assure the House that that was not the case. A breakdown of total expenditure per pupil by local education authorities in Wales shows that only 3 per cent. is spent on capitation fees and less than 5 per cent. on building maintenance.

Sir Raymond Gower

Do not these figures make nonsense of some of the exaggerated propaganda about expenditure on education in Wales and in the United Kingdom generally? Is the enhanced figure per pupil the amount actually available in schools, or is some of it eaten up in the cost of increased administration?

Mr. Roberts

I have given a breakdown of some of the figures relating to expenditure per pupil. It is a fact of life that 71 per cent. of the expenditure goes on teachers' salaries, 10 per cent. on other salaries—I think that that meets my hon. Friend's point—13 per cent. on premises, less than 5 per cent. of which is spent on maintenance, 3 per cent. on captitation and 3 per cent. on other expenses. My hon. Friend is right to say that the expenditure figures make nonsense of many of the allegations against the Government.

Mr. Barry Jones

What plans does the Minister have to replace the pre-1903 schools? Too many of them are still dank and dingy. There is a lot of damp and many have leaking roofs. Is it not really a moral question—our youngsters should have the finest investment in their education, given the awful difficulty they will have on leaving school in getting jobs in a period of depression? Will the hon. Gentleman accept from me the advice that, rather than give increased grants to the public schools of Wales, he should channel that money into the local education sector and ensure a better deal for children in state schools?

Mr. Roberts

The hon. Gentleman knows only too well that there is a considerable amount of money available to local education authorities for education—some £659.5 million in rate support grant in the current year. Some of the old schools are, indeed, in bad condition but I have also seen schools built by the Labour Government which are now falling apart. This year we have increased the capital expenditure available to local authorities by 30 per cent., with £39 million for education buildings.