HC Deb 27 November 1990 vol 181 cc725-6
1. Mr. Hague

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what has been the increase in absolute spending on education, in total and per pupil, since 1979.

The Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. Kenneth Clarke)

Direct spending on nursery, primary and secondary schools in England rose from some £4.2 billion in 1979–80 to some £9.2 billion in the latest outturn year, 1988–89. This represents an increase in spending per pupil from some £515 in 1979–80 to £1,360 in 1988–89. That is a real-terms increase over and above inflation of more than 40 per cent.

Mr. Hague

Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that the figures given in his answer, even when adjusted for inflation, help to explain why most schools are far better equipped for a modern education than they were 10 years ago and have a much better pupil-teacher relationship than they had 10 years ago? Does he also agree that high-quality education does not depend solely on a massive increase in resources, as some Opposition Members sometimes seem to believe?

Mr. Clarke

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. I agree with him. The figures that I gave refer to the latest outturn year. The settlement for next year takes standard spending assessments up by 16 per cent., which is a further 10 per cent. ahead of inflation. I strongly agreee with my hon. Friend that with this growth of resources must come ever-better targeting and ever-better measurement of the standards being achieved in our schools through the use of those resources.

Mr. Grocott

The Government's policy of expenditure on city technology colleges means that they are treating pupils unfairly. How can the Secretary of State possibly justify spending £8.5 million of taxpayers' money on one school—the city technology college in Telford—when less than £8 million is being spent on all the other schools in the county? Is not it time the right hon. and learned Gentleman listened to the overwhelming representations that he has had from all sections of the community and scrapped this unfair concept?

Mr. Clarke

I think that the hon. Gentleman's perception is mistaken. The money spent on city technology colleges is not spent at the expense of other schools—it is money which would not otherwise have been spent on education. It is a policy of envy to say that Telford should not have a city technology college unless all pupils can go to it. The CTC is an attractive addition to education facilities in Telford and as the Member representing that town the hon. Gentleman should support it.

Mr. Hunter

I welcome and applaud the increase in absolute spending. Will my right hon. and learned Friend take note that in Hampshire too much money is being held back by the education authority? Will he intensify his approaches to Hampshire education authority to ensure that money is passed on to the schools?

Mr. Clarke

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. We are looking at that very important point and will shortly issue a circular indicating the minimum amount of the total available that should be distributed to schools and the minimum amount within that total which should be based on the number of pupils in each school. That should bring each county and each education authority into line with best practice, which is exactly what my hon. Friend would wish.