HC Deb 12 March 1991 vol 187 c797
8. Mr. Steen

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will increase capital allowances for equipment for schools in rural areas.

Mr. Fallon

The 15 per cent. increase in annual guidelines for schools' capital from April should enable LEAs to spend more on equipment for schools in rural areas, as they wish.

Mr. Steen

Does my hon. Friend agree that there is no point in having a new curriculum, good though it is, without the resources to make it implementable? Is he aware that in areas such as Devon extremely low capital authorisation prevents the re-equipping of schools, and credit approvals are so inadequate that new computers, books and other equipment have to be provided by parents raising the money rather than by the local education authorities raising the funds?

Mr. Fallon

Devon received an allocation of about £7.7 million for the forthcoming year. Included in its bid was only £1.4 million for improvement and replacement work, including equipment, most of which it received. I appreciate my hon. Friend's concern, and my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State and I recently met a delegation of colleagues from Devon to discuss the allocation further.

Miss Emma Nicholson

Does my hon. Friend agree that, in the light of the meetings to which he has just referred between the Secretary of State for Education and Science and the local education authority from county hall in Devon, the capital funding for schools in rural areas should properly take account of a degree of rural deprivation? It is sometimes difficult for children in rural areas to get transport to libraries and other facilities that they need. New spending assessment rules should perhaps take that into account. In that context, does my right hon. Friend welcome the rebuilding of Horrabridge county primary school, for which we are turning the first turf on Friday?

Mr. Fallon

I certainly welcome the project to which my hon. Friend refers. When we republish the criteria for next year, we shall consider my hon. Friend's other point about rural areas.