HC Deb 17 October 1994 vol 248 cc8-10
8. Sir David Knox

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how much was spent per pupil in secondary schools in Wales in the most recent year for which figures are available; and what was the figure for 1978–79 at constant prices.

Mr. Redwood

In constant prices, in 1979–80 the amount per secondary pupil was £1,449, and in 1992–93 it had risen to £2,372. That is a real increase of 63 per cent. We do not have the figures for the previous year, 1978–79.

Sir David Knox

Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that that impressive increase in expenditure has been reflected in an improvement in standards?

Mr. Redwood

Not enough. As I have often told the House and the Welsh Grand Committee, money on its own is not sufficient; we require a great deal of commitment from governors, teachers and all involved in schools, as well as help from parents. Let me repeat my plea for Labour authorities in Wales to take their duties in regard to quality and performance more seriously, and do what their leader is instructing them to do.

Mr. Hain

What proportion of the expenditure went on school sports, about which the Prime Minister made a great deal of noise last week? How does that compare with the attacks that his Government have mounted on the teaching profession, which have undermined the ability to provide school sports throughout the system, although they are—or should be—such a vital part of education?

Mr. Redwood

I do not have the exact breakdown by category or subject matter. I will let the hon. Gentleman know what my office knows after Question Time. He may wish to know, however, that there has been a 57 per cent. real increase in teachers' pay and that the increase per pupil has been even greater. That means that extra money has been available for books, materials and school sports. The hon. Gentleman is entirely right: competitive team games are very important and we intend to pursue that policy vigorously in Wales.

Mr. Ron Davies

The Secretary of State should spend a little less time attacking the Labour party and a little more time addressing his own responsibilities as Secretary of State. He should realise that the education system in Wales is still grossly underfunded. It is an absolute disgrace that he is wasting money that should be spent on our schools—on improving education—in forcing the re-running of ballots on opt-outs, just because he does not like the result of those ballots.

Will the Secretary of State confirm that, when he ordered the re-running of the West Mon ballot last month, he did so because he thought that the ballot had been influenced by misleading information? Given that solemn pledges made at the last election have been broken daily by the Government, how long does the right hon. Gentleman think that he and his Government would have lasted had they applied to themselves the test that they are now applying to West Mon?

Mr. Redwood

Money is given in great quantities as a result of the Government's recommendations and the votes of the House. As I have explained, each secondary pupil is enjoying 63 per cent. more in real terms than when Labour left office. Does not that mean that when Labour was in office education was chronically underfunded? We have more than put that right and we have more than matched the substantial increase in teachers' pay, so I reject that part of the question implicitly. As for not liking the results of ballots, I like any fair ballot result, whether it is yes or no because I believe in local choice and local democracy, which Labour is always running away from in this case. Were the hon. Gentleman a little more fair-minded, he would agree that that particular ballot was not well conducted because of the information put round. May there now be a fair result, whether it is yes or no.