HC Deb 04 March 1986 vol 93 cc143-4
12. Mr. Simon Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what sum from the inner cities programme will benefit inner cities education projects.

Mr. Chris Patten

The main focus of the new inner cities initiative is to be on improving employment opportunities, supporting local industry and improving the physical environment. However, the urban programme is already supporting education expenditure of about £33 million in urban areas in 1985–86 and over £81 million of education expenditure, mostly in urban areas, is being supported by section 11 grants.

Mr. Hughes

I am grateful to the Minister for his answer. In the light of the opinion poll released this week, commissioned by ILEA, which shows that more people—40 per cent.—think that the quality of state education in inner London is poor, very poor or terrible than think it is good, very good or excellent, will he direct the educational funds aimed at inner cities to dealing with the quality of education in inner London, which is at the core of the problem, rather than allowing it to be directed to peripheral activities, which will not give youngsters the employment opportunities at which the inner cities programme is aimed?

Mr. Patten

The hon. Gentleman has made an important point about quality. If there was a direct relationship between quality and the amount of resources spent, standards in ILEA would be second to none, but, alas, that is not the case.

Mr. Spencer

When my hon. Friend visits Highfields in Leicester, following the initiative announced by his right hon. Friend, will he consider the need for single sex education and how that might be met?

Mr. Patten

Before I go to Highfields I shall, of course, talk to my hon. and learned Friend. I am sure that he will mark my card.

Mr. Freeson

The Minister must accept that the figures he has quoted are no more than a tiny fraction of the massive thousands of millions of pounds that are spent each year on education nationally. Does he agree that what is much more important, and is receiving little or no attention, is the shift of the main line budget for education into the inner city areas? Does he accept that there is a direct relationship between the amount of money available for refurbishing rundown buildings and the environment in which children have to grow up?

Mr. Patten

I have tried to deal with the question of the relationship between input and output in education. I did not mention all the funds that are going to the inner cities. I did not mention, for example, the money that is being paid under the education support grants. I do not think that the situation is as easy as the hon. Gentleman said. If it were just a question of resources equalling quality, we should not have to deal with some of the horrors that are on the scene.

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