HC Deb 23 July 1991 vol 195 cc1022-4
8. Mr. Barry Field

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is the average amount of money being held back by local education authorities in England and Wales, per pupil, under the system of local management of schools.

Mr. Fallon

Figures for the current financial year 1991–92 are not yet complete, but I can tell my hon. Friend that the Isle of Wight local education authority is holding back 16.25 per cent. of its potential schools budget, which works out at about £280 per pupil. I shall write to my hon. Friend when the national average is available.

Mr. Field

If local education authorities conformed to the Government's recommended 15 per cent. retention, would not there be an extra £140 million available to schools throughout the country? Have not governors, pupils, school teachers and lecturers become thoroughly fed up with the political posturing of local education authorities like the Liberal Democrats who have retained £200,000 from the college of art and technology on the Isle of Wight, a fact which came to light only when I led a delegation to my hon. Friend's Department, and who have sacked school governors, many of whom had given years of non-political service to their school boards? That was the greatest act of political spite by the Liberal Democrats ever to occur on the Isle of Wight.

Mr. Fallon

I certainly deplore that. The Liberal Democrats on the Isle of Wight are holding back £5 million of the £30 million and that is precisely why by April 1993, hold-back will be limited to 15 per cent. so that schools' money can be spent in classrooms and not in the town halls.

Mr. Madden

Will the Minister confirm that the amount being held by Bradford local education authority is not unreasonable? Will he also confirm that there is widespread concern in schools in Bradford about the wholly insufficient amount of capital allocation from the Minister's Department which means that crucial renovations and repairs which have been hoped for for many years are likely to be deferred yet again this year? That work will include an attack on the enormous number of temporary classrooms and schools that are literally crumbling, a point highlighted by a headmaster who does not have an office and must work in the corridor, in the playground or in his parked car?

Mr. Fallon

Overall we were able to increase schools' capital guidelines this year by 15 per cent. to £470 million. Bradford's allocation was more than £9 million.

Mr. Pawsey

May I congratulate my right hon. and hon. Friends on the success of their LMS policy, which releases substantial extra funds to schools? Will my hon. Friend the Minister carefully note the opposition that comes from Labour Members and their supporters? Does he agree that the success of the LMS policy helps to show the way towards grant-maintained status? I am sure that my hon. Friend will join me in hoping that more schools adopt GMS.

Mr. Fallon

We regard local management of schools—the preparation and management of a budget—as a preliminary and important preparatory step towards full grant-maintained status. Indeed, it is difficult to see how anybody could be against local management of schools, as it ensures that schools' money is actually spent in schools. [Interruption.] If the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) says that he is not, why does he not deplore the practice of councils such as Newham and Waltham Forest spending so much on central administration, or is he happy to see a bureaucrats charter?

Mr. Turner

If the Minister does not have the figures for the hon. Member for Isle of Wight (Mr. Field), how can we assess the success or otherwise of the policy? When we are moving into 1992, why does he not have the figures for 1990–91? I question whether the Department of Education and Science has published the figures for 1989–90. One of our problems is that we have no up-to-date statistics on which to work. If we had, the Minister would give us the figures today.

Mr. Fallon

I published the figures for 1990–91 last December. I gave the figures for the Isle of Wight. Whether the hon. Gentleman likes it or not, I will now give him the current year's figures for Wolverhampton. Wolverhampton holds back the fifth highest amount in England and refuses to delegate that money to its schools.