HC Deb 13 December 1995 vol 268 cc983-4
11. Mr. Hawkins

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what plans she has to ensure that additional spending on education reaches schools and pupils; and if she will make a statement. [3878]

Mrs. Gillian Shephard

We have provided an extra £878 million for schools next year, and that is where I expect the funds to go. Authorities that choose to do otherwise will be called to account by parents and governors, and rightly so.

Mr. Hawkins

Does my right hon. Friend accept that, although parents in Lancashire are extremely pleased to know that that additional money is being provided, they are becoming increasingly frustrated by the fact that the local education authority, under Labour control, continues to waste money, as it did last year, when it made cuts in schools at the same time as providing advisers to advise teenage girls on lesbianism? Is that not the record of Labour in office, and is it not a disgrace?

Mrs. Shephard

My hon. Friend makes his own point. Lancashire is set to benefit from a 5.5 per cent. increase in its education SSA. It is therefore well placed to ensure that those extra resources go to the classrooms. I am quite certain that the pressure exerted on the LEA by my hon. Friend and his colleagues will ensure that that happens.

Mr. Pickthall

Will the Secretary of State tell the people of Lancashire precisely how much of that supposed rise will go to new spend in schools after taking into account inflation, the teachers' pay rise, the extra numbers coming on stream in schools and the extra spend that is required on special educational needs? How much will be left?

Mrs. Shephard

The extra money is there, as it always is, to fund the teachers' pay award, the increase in pupil numbers and so on, and of course to take account of LEAs' own priorities. Naturally, I would expect them to continue to look for savings and to ensure that the extra money is used to maximum advantage.

Mr. Sykes

May I put a Yorkshire point of view to my right hon. Friend? Instead of putting up with the crescendo of whingeing from Opposition Members, to which we have been subjected this afternoon, may I tell her that the people of North Yorkshire are absolutely delighted with the additional resources in this year's education SSA? Does she think that it would be a good idea, if it wanted to spend more money on education, for North Yorkshire county council to sell its £14 million worth of farm land?

Mrs. Shephard

A Yorkshire point of view is always refreshing, as we have just heard. I can do no more than say to my hon. Friend that I am delighted that he and his colleagues, and, indeed, North Yorkshire, are pleased with the extra resources allocated to education. What the local authority decides to do with its farm land, and its other assets, is a matter for it.

Mr. Bryan Davies

As the nation is becoming aware that this so-called extra expenditure on schools is largely illusory, shall we consider some of the realities of the Budget? Will the Secretary of State take this opportunity to explain to the country the benefits of slashing higher education capital expenditure by a third and further education colleges' capital expenditure by two thirds over the next couple of years?

Mrs. Shephard

Higher education and further education recurrent spending has been protected. Indeed, there is provision for an extra 12 per cent. increase in student numbers in further education and provision for the continuing steady growth in higher education numbers. There is still provision for capital programmes for higher and further education, but we expect them to take advantage, as indeed they already are—in the case of higher education to the tune of £1.6 billion—of the private finance initiative.

Sir Patrick Cormack

As my right hon. Friend will know from her recent visit, there is considerable satisfaction in Staffordshire about the recent announcement. Will she send a note to Members of Parliament of all counties pointing out what prudent management of this extra money could result in?

Mrs. Shephard

I shall certainly take on board my hon. Friend's suggestion.

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