HC Deb 10 December 1991 vol 200 cc716-7
2. Mr. Grocott

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science how much money has to date been contributed by the private sector to city technology colleges.

The Minister of State, Department of Education and Science (Mr. Tim Eggar)

By the end of the colleges' last school year on 31 August, nearly £19 million had been contributed to city technology colleges by the private sector. More than £30 million has been committed in all.

Mr. Grocott

Can the Minister confirm that in the last financial year, 1990–91, no less than 88 per cent. of the capital costs of the CTC programme, including those of the Telford college in my constituency, were paid for by the taxpayer? Industrialists have been notably unwilling and unforthcoming in responding to the Government's requests. Can the Minister allay my suspicions about this by assuring me that as a result of a few industrialists having contributed to the programme we shall not find the names of certain chairmen and managing directors appearing in the new year honours list? Since we the taxpayers are having to pay for the programme, can the Minister at least listen to the taxpayers on this and spend these huge sums of money on all our children and not just a few?

Mr. Eggar

The hon. Gentleman should be doing the listening. He should be listening to parents in his constituency who have opted overwhelmingly for the CTC, with more than 500 applications for 248 places last year and with 660 applications for next year. Before he makes wild aspersions about other people, he should visit the school in his constituency, where he will find excellent education going on.

Mr. Brandon-Bravo

Will the Minister pay tribute to the generosity of Mr. Harry Djanogly, who gave £1 million of his personal money to see that Nottingham has a CTC? Will he confirm that the capital cost of the school is no different from the cost of building a new school anywhere, that the funding per pupil is no different compared with any other state pupils and that the evil campaign by Nottingham county council would deny the most deprived children in our inner city a first-class education?

Mr. Eggar

I completely agree with my hon. Friend. Nottingham CTC is extremely attractive to parents and is very well supported. The attitude of Nottinghamshire local education authority has been quite disgraceful by any standards. Why should it be seeking to deprive children of a first-class education? I wish that Labour Members would make their position clear. Do they really want to deprive parents of the kind of choice that their policies would mean in Nottingham, Telford and elsewhere?

Mr. Flannery

Why does the Minister not talk reality about the city technology colleges? He knows as well as I do that, like the assisted places scheme, they are another step towards privatisation of the education system. The inspectorate is another example. The hon. Gentleman knows full well that the CTCs were intended to be paid for by private employers. That failed, so the Government are taking money from the taxpayer to the tune, with the assisted places scheme, of more than £500 million—[Interruption.] That is what it is costing, based on the Government's own figures. That is why I ask the Minister to admit the reality of the situation, with that amount of money being removed from the state system of education.

Mr. Eggar

The Labour party will simply never understand the position. Parents want choice. Whether they live in the inner cities or elsewhere, they want choice to send their children to independent schools with the benefit of an assisted place, choice to send their children to grammar schools and choice under the new technology schools initiative. Choice is hated by the Labour party because it cannot control what parents and children want if choice is offered. That is the old-fashioned type of socialism that the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) has always pursued, and unfortunately the occupants of the Labour Front Bench have taken a lead from him rather than from more sensible parents.

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