HL Deb 15 July 1998 vol 592 cc276-92

4.8 p.m.

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone)

My Lords, with the leave of the House I shall now repeat a Statement on the impact of the Comprehensive Spending Review on education and employment which is being made in another place by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education and Employment. The Statement is as follows:

"The announcement made yesterday by the Chancellor heralds a new beginning for our schools, colleges and universities. This is a new contract for education—an investment on an unprecedented scale to deliver a step change in education standards nationwide. Every pound of new funding has been linked to demanding targets, including firm targets for maths and English, to drive up standards across the board. This settlement demonstrates the Government's commitment to fulfilling our pledges, investing in the future of our children and the employability and lifelong learning of our people. It allows us to modernise and renew our commitment to taking on the challenge of a new century.

"It is our intention in the years ahead to create the classroom of the future. Smaller classes and the expansion of modern technology to support learning will be matched by better motivated and more highly skilled teachers. The best will be rewarded, building on the new grade of advanced skill teacher, and we will seek to recruit, retain and reward our teachers to match the task ahead. The settlement will allow us to employ more classroom assistants to back up our teachers. We intend to improve dramatically the adult-to-pupil ratio in primary classrooms to ensure children have the attention which they need to succeed.

"Since May last year we have announced an extra £2.5 billion for education and £3.5 billion for the new deal programme for unemployed men and women. We are building on the progress made this year. From September there will be lower class sizes for 100,000 pupils in infant classes; a new literacy framework; and an early years place for every four year-old whose parents wish it.

"We have made a good beginning. But today I can inform the House that in the next three years we will do even better. A flying start in life is crucial to success. That is why I am announcing a new initiative to link support for families and nursery education in providing a sure start for all our children. 'Sure start' will be a cross-department initiative involving my colleagues in the Department of Health and others with the DfEE to provide comprehensive support for those pre-school children who face the greatest disadvantage. It will include childcare and play; primary health care; early education; and family support. We are spending £540 million on 'Sure start' over the three years. This is in addition to our childcare initiative.

"Nursery education is the foundation of later educational success. I am pleased therefore to be able to announce to the House that by the year 2002 there will be an extra 190,000 nursery places for three year-olds in England, doubling to two-thirds the number of three year-olds who currently have access to a free nursery place. This is the first step towards ensuring universal provision for all three year-olds whose parents want it.

"We promised the voters that by 2002 there would be no five, six or seven year-old in classes of over 30. This is an essential pledge and a key component in raising standards. I am keen to make even faster progress. I am pleased to be able to tell the House that the money announced by my right honourable friend yesterday will enable us to achieve that pledge earlier. No five, six or seven year-old will be in a class of more than 30 by September 2001. I can go further. The resources available will enable those local education authorities who wish to do so to fulfil that aim by September 2000—18 months earlier than our promise to the electorate. There will be an extra £160 million available to adapt or build some 2,000 extra classrooms, ensuring that we can underpin parental preference as well as delivering smaller class sizes. There will be an extra 6,000 teachers employed to ensure that youngsters learn the basics. In total, we will be spending an additional £620 million between now and 2002 to deliver our pledge.

"But it is not just our schools who will gain. Our universities and colleges are winners too. We have taken tough but fair decisions on funding for further and higher education. We did so to end the years of neglect—a 30 per cent. drop in funding per higher education student over the last seven Conservative budgets. I can tell the House today that we will carry through our promise to spend the money raised by our new student support arrangements on improving access to, and investment in, further and higher education. In 1999–2000 alone, there will be an extra £280 million for our universities. This is a 5.7 per cent. cash increase for higher education and includes £50 million for research. This will be in addition to the substantial sums announced by my right honourable friend the President of the Board of Trade for research and science expenditure.

"I am particularly pleased to announce today an additional £255 million for our further education and sixth form colleges, a cash increase next year alone of 8.2 per cent. This will enable us to improve skill levels and increase staying on rates at 16.

"The real terms increase in spending on education across the United Kingdom over the next three years will be almost 16 per cent.—an average of more than 5 per cent. a year—and in cash terms an increase of 25 per cent.

"Our school system was failed by the party opposite during the 18 years it was in power. It managed an average real terms increase of just 1.4 per cent. per year. In the three years to 1997, it reduced the amount allocated in real terms to education year on year. Inevitably class sizes rose year on year. Today marks the end of that sorry decline. By contrast we have allocated almost £10 billion in 2001.

"We will double spending on capital investment over the Parliament: money for repair and modernisation; money for classrooms fit to learn in. The Tory government in its final death throes cut spending by £110 per pupil. Our spending proposals mean an increase of £300 per pupil next year, over and above what the party opposite would have spent had it won the last election.

"In the months and years ahead the change will be clear for all to see—in the fabric of our schools, in the professionalism and morale of our teachers, and in the results achieved by our pupils.

"This is a historic day for education. It is the largest and the best settlement in any three-year period since the war. It will give every pupil and every teacher, every parent and every governor, the confidence they need to deliver higher standards—essential for all of us in the new millennium.

"We said we would put education as our top priority. We said we would spend more of our national income than our predecessors on education. Today we are fulfilling our promises. Tomorrow we will start to deliver the education service which Britain deserves."

My Lords, that concludes the Statement.

4.16 p.m.

Baroness Blotch

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for repeating the Statement. I congratulate the Secretary of State and the noble Baroness on their ingenuity in constructing large figures for future spending by counting absolutely everything on top of the cash figures for this year as an increase in spending—future inflation, three years' worth of raids on the contingency reserve, definitional changes, all thrown together in a great hotch-potch.

The noble Baroness did not mention the figure of £19 billion. It would be helpful if that figure can be confirmed. It seems extraordinary that this is an expenditure Statement and the total has not been referred to.

Will the noble Baroness also confirm that, using exactly the government methodology—working from the first year's cash amount and counting everything else as an increase—the Conservative Government presided over increases in education spending cumulatively totalling £250 billion since 1979 and £26 billion since 1992?

The figures have been calculated at 1998–99 prices. It is interesting that over the entire lifetime of the last Parliament the average increase in expenditure was 5.1 per cent. under a Tory government. Taking into account everything announced yesterday, and referred to today by the noble Baroness, the average increase in the education budget over the lifetime of this coming Parliament will be 4.8 per cent.

Will the noble Baroness also confirm that, despite the pledge to increase the proportion of our national output on education, it will take at least four years simply to get back to the position that was inherited? The Government will have to run hard in order to stand still on this one. Why has the proportion of GDP which we devoted to education been reduced from 4.9 per cent. to 4.7 per cent.?

Much play is made of finally getting to the figure of 5 per cent. of GDP in the fifth year in office. Will the noble Baroness confirm that for 12 out of 18 years in office we devoted at least that proportion of national income to education?

Increased expenditure on education was to be financed by savings on payments to unemployed people. Again, will the noble Baroness confirm that today's figures show a second consecutive increase, albeit small, and that, as admitted by Government, the trend is upwards?

The Secretary of State offers a familiar list of areas on which money will be spent. Boasts were made that we will achieve the target for class sizes by the year 2000 rather than 2001. Will the Government confirm that the money saved from assisted places will not go anywhere near funding all the revenue costs? We know—because the Government have admitted it—that it will not fund the capital costs. Will the Minister tell us what resources will be made available for the 1998–99 financial year to meet that pledge? By the end of the 1998–1999 financial year we will be a mere 20 weeks from delivering the whole of that pledge. It would be helpful to know what resources will be applied to it in the coming financial year.

The Secretary of State talks about extending provision in school for three and four year-olds. Is the Minister aware that many independent voluntary nursery schools for four year-olds are closing as a direct result of the so-called expansion of education for four year-olds, which has meant public sector expansion at the expense of others? Much has been made of the voucher scheme having had that effect, but the present proposals, and those outlined in the Statement, are having a much greater effect on private provision. At least the vouchers helped to keep that provision alive. Will the Minister tell us what proportion will sustain the private sector which is now moving down the age range from four year-olds and three year-olds and will move from three year-olds to two year-olds and end up being a baby-minding service rather than a pre-school play service?

Will the Minister say what proportion of the money will address the difficulty of the differential pupil and adult teacher ratios of private provision as opposed to state provision? The Statement is specific about capital expenditure but it is vague about pay. It is no good having nice, shiny brick-built classrooms if one cannot recruit and keep good teachers to teach in them. Does the Minister accept that we are now facing a crisis in teacher recruitment and retention? The Statement almost studiously avoids any reference to pay and conditions; in other words, it seems that the Government are not taking a grip of that problem.

Will the Minister confirm that today's figures rest on the assumption that local authorities spend above SSA on education? It would helpful to know how SSAs will be affected and just how much money will be made available to go from Government to local government and then into the classroom. But is not spending above SSA what the Deputy Prime Minister penalises local authorities for? For example, my authority is spending well above its SSA on education. It is being pilloried by the local Member of Parliament for not passing on to the schools the money that was put into the budget last year. It is spending well in advance of the money that was made available to those schools, so much so that if it spends any more it will be accused of over-spending, and will then be penalised by the right honourable gentleman, Mr. Prescott.

We want to hear more from the Minister about the education maintenance grants for 16 to 18 year-olds. There has been no mention of whether child benefit will be removed from 16 to 18 year-olds, again, a factor that will affect young people in education and those contemplating going into further and higher education.

We have heard again the oft-repeated pledge of 500,000 extra places in higher education and further education. But the Secretary of State has been repeating that for over a year now. Everyone in the world of higher education and further education now needs information about what that means in practice. For example, what progress has been made to date? Will the Minister tell us the progress made on numbers into further education and higher education to date? How many of those places will be in further education, and how many in higher education? Will the Minister confirm that many of those are part-time places? If they are part-time places, what is the whole-time equivalent of 500,000, or is the 500,000 a full-time equivalent figure?

Everyone involved in education will welcome the extra money made available from any government, but they will not support interference in every nook and cranny of their schools, colleges and universities. We have seen the Teaching and Higher Education Bill and the School Standards and Framework Bill pass through this House recently. The legislation smacks of a great deal of interference and intervention and second-guessing as to what schools and LEAs are doing.

It would be helpful to know more about pay and conditions for teachers, and some confirmation of the figures I have given the Minister. On student loans, what have the Government gained from selling the student loans book to the private sector, and what will they gain from the abolition of student loans and the charging of student fees? The figure mentioned in the Statement is £280 million extra going into higher education, but the cost to students and the saving to government is £600 million on the abolition of maintenance and £250 million on the raising of tuition fees.

Those increases are at the expense of the students, and even then they are not getting the whole increase. Will the Minister guarantee now that moneys raised from the abolition of higher education maintenance grants and the introduction of tuition fees for students in higher education will benefit pound-for-pound higher education spending? So far what has been announced does not equate with what will come from the students.

The spending plans rely upon predicted levels of unemployment and inflation and the degree of growth in the economy. Will the Government guarantee that the level of expenditure announced yesterday and repeated here today—whatever the outcome of those economic factors—will be met? If those economic factors are not as predicted by the Government what will be the source of this expenditure?

4.26 p.m.

Baroness Maddock

My Lords, I do not intend to go into great detail as to whether the figures are right and whether they add up. Suffice to say that whoever are in government will always put the best spin on their spending proposals. There is some doubt as to whether everyone agrees on the figures.

We on these Benches come from a party which put education as its top priority not just at the last general election, but the one before, and continues to do so in local authorities. So it would be churlish not to welcome the Government's aims in putting forward the spending proposals and the extra money that is to go into education. We welcome especially the fact that it will cover all sectors of education.

As has been said, we must remember that there is a great deal of damage to be repaired resulting from the past 18 years. Indeed, the damage continued with this Government because they stuck to the previous government's spending targets. Although it sounds good when we talk about how much more money will be spent per pupil, spending per pupil is not the same around the country. When I was in another place I represented a constituency that did especially badly under the present regime. There was a difference of £100 per capita being spent on pupils who lived within five miles of one another.

We welcome the plans for reducing class sizes, but as was demonstrated during the passage of the School Standards and Framework Bill we would like to have seen that reduction in class sizes for all primary children. That is the feeling of teachers, as expressed this morning on the radio when teachers were asked their views about these spending plans.

We welcome also the emphasis on pre-school provision but, as I have said previously in this House, we are disappointed that the Bill on school standards, with which we finished dealing this week, did not do much to sort out the real problem of the different types of provision for young children.

We welcome the plans to double spending on buildings. However, I have two areas of concern. First, the last government reduced the space standards in schools; and this Government still have to reverse that decision. There has been much emphasis on the state of school buildings. While the Minister did not state this today, I understand that yesterday it was emphasised that money would be spent on the pre-1914 buildings. Many of us involved in teaching will know that some of those buildings are not satisfactory, in particular if they have outside toilets. But it is the 1960s buildings which have given so many problems in education. I hope, therefore, that those buildings will be part of the Government's plans.

I am in agreement with the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, as regards how we shall attract the teachers we need. We have all agreed in this House in recent weeks that if we are to reduce class sizes we need more teachers. If we are to raise standards, we need the best teachers. But we heard little either today or yesterday about how the money will be spent to attract and train teachers; and how it will be used to motivate and keep them. Without doubt, raising standards is in the hands of good teachers.

In The Times today, David Hart commented that we had one of the worst crises in terms of attracting sufficient teachers. In this House I highlighted the plight of the school my children attended—it was brought to my attention by their past headmaster—in attracting enough teachers to apply for posts. In the past two weeks there have been serious difficulties in recruiting people to train as mathematics teachers. As increasing numeracy is part of the Government's plans, that is a serious difficulty. The Government have said that there will be 6,000 extra teachers, but we have had little detail about where those teachers will come from and how the Government will reach those numbers.

At the beginning of the Statement the Government state that every pound of new funding has been linked to demanding targets, including firm targets for maths and English to drive up standards across the board. I hope that next year we shall hear from the Government precisely how their performance stands up against the targets that they have set themselves. That is what is important in the end. That will be the measure of success of any bold statements made in this House today.

4.32 p.m.

Baroness Blackstone

My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, does not seem able to welcome the additional expenditure that the Government are making available for education. I am a little sorry about that. She asks whether I can confirm the £19 billion that will be spent over the next few years; indeed I can. I can give her the sub-division over the three years. Over and above the 1998–99 figures rounded up the sums are as follows: in 1999–2000, £3 billion; in 2000–2001, £6 billion; and in 2001–2002, £10 billion. I think that we can pass even the most elementary numeracy test; it adds up to £19 billion.

The noble Baroness asked about the Conservative Government's record on spending on education. I believe that she confused real terms with cash terms in the claims she made. Perhaps I can let her have the figures. Over the last Parliament, the average real term increase was 1.4 per cent. per year. However, over the next three years the average real term increase as a result of the Statement will be 5.1 per cent. That is a considerable difference.

Baroness Blatch

My Lords, the Minister has completely misunderstood the point. Over the lifetime of the last Parliament, the average increase in percentage of GDP was 5.1 per cent. The level of GDP spending at this moment is only 4.7 per cent. It will take four years to get back to the level that was inherited. Taking exactly the same methodology that the Government used—not simply the cash but all the other expenditure which is counted as an increase in spending—will the noble Baroness confirm the figures I gave in my response?

Baroness Blackstone

My Lords, the noble Baroness seems to have forgotten how many questions she asked. She indeed asked a question about GDP and I was going to come to that. But before that question, the noble Baroness asked about the per annum increase in expenditure under the last government and how it compared with what is being proposed. I have just given the answer.

Perhaps I may give the noble Baroness the answer to the GDP question that she raises. Under these proposals, on a resource accounting basis—

Noble Lords


Baroness Blackstone

My Lords, if it assists I can give the answer on a cash basis. There is little difference in the figures. In 1997–98, the expenditure of the last government on education as a proportion of GDP was 4.7 per cent. Under our proposals, by the year 2001–2002 it will be 5.1 per cent. On a resource accounting basis the figures are 4.8 per cent. under the Conservative Government and 5 per cent. under the Labour Government's proposals. I sought to be helpful to the noble Baroness's case in giving the resource accounting basis but she does not seem to be aware of that.

It is true that at one point earlier in the 1990s the Conservative Government's spending was rather higher as a proportion of GDP. My noble friend Lord Peston is not present. But as any economist will tell us, if one is in the middle of a recession when one's GDP goes down the proportion of expenditure on one's public services will automatically appear to go up.

Baroness Blatch

My Lords, the noble Baroness really cannot get away with that. Let me give the GDP figures for the whole of the last Parliament. The figure went from 707, 725, 757, 775 and 793. Those were increased GDP figures in each of those five years. The percentage of GDP spent on education was 5.2 per cent. in the first year, 5.2 per cent. in the second year, 5.2 per cent. in the third year, 5 per cent. in the fourth year and 4.9 per cent. in the fifth year. So for four out of the five years it was 5 per cent. or more as opposed to the Government's plans which will not reach 5 per cent. until the last year of this Parliament.

Baroness Blackstone

My Lords, the noble Baroness has conveniently left off the last year of the expenditure under her government. I have the figures in front of me. Under the noble Baroness's plans, the figures fell. The plans were of course inherited; we did not take office until May 1997. It was impossible to change the spending plans for a year in which we took office. We could hardly alter the spending that had already begun in that year. It fell to 4.7 per cent. I have already indicated that I am perfectly clear that in the earlier period the proportion spent was as the noble Baroness has given, but I have also explained to her that there was the biggest recession that we have had for a long time during the early 1990s and that explains why the figures seem rather higher.

I turn to some of the later questions asked by the noble Baroness. She asked about spending on class size reductions in 1998–99. During the coming year, we shall be spending £22 million from savings from the assisted places scheme. We shall be spending an additional £40 million on capital, which the noble Baroness will remember we announced in the March Budget. That comes to a total of £62 million.

The noble Baroness went on to ask about provision for three and four year-olds and claimed that the Government's proposals will reduce the number of private sector providers. She also denied that the Berkshire scheme had any effect on that. I am afraid that I cannot agree with her; I believe that it did have an effect. The noble Baroness will need to wait for our more detailed announcements on this later in the year. The proportion for private sector providers will depend on plans put forward by local partnerships. The Government have already made it clear that they want these partnerships to work. We want the private and public sectors to work together. I see no reason why those predictions should come true.

The noble Baroness went on to mention teacher recruitment and retention, a point also raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Maddock. Of course, it is vitally important that we both recruit and retain good teachers. But anyone considering entering the teaching profession, or anyone who is presently a member of the profession, will be pleased with what has been announced today. I cannot believe that these large increases in educational expenditure and in our spending on schools will discourage or lower the morale of teachers. On the contrary, I believe that there will be many cheers in school staff-rooms when teachers hear what we propose.

There will be many improvements in the quality of the facilities which teachers have available to them. We have stated that we shall also be providing more teacher assistants to work in classrooms with them. That is important and it is an aspect into which we must put a great deal of effort.

I heard the noble Lord, Lord Pilkington, mention pay. Yes, pay is also important and in no way do I suggest otherwise. There is no question of a pay freeze as regards teachers. We have already announced a new category of advanced skills teachers whom we intend to reward for their success and high performance in the classrooms not only by status but by an improvement in their pay.

The noble Baroness asked about educational maintenance allowances and child benefit. Yesterday my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that we would be running a pilot scheme on educational maintenance allowances in which we will look at the whole issue. When we have monitored its success—if such a scheme is successful; our hypothesis is that it will be—in terms of retaining young people who might otherwise drop out of education altogether, we will then move forward. However, I can say no more about that scheme, other than that it is a pilot scheme, the long-term intention of which is to consider whether there should be a shift from child benefit expenditure to those aged over 16 into educational maintenance allowances to target those most in need.

The noble Baroness asked about the 500,000 additional students in further and higher education. She is a little confused. I understand that confusion because I know that it is difficult to make the distinction between numbers and places. The pledge the Prime Minister made was for extra people in further and higher education, not extra places. In the year 1999–2000 there will be 35,000 more students in higher education and 150,000 more students in further education.

The noble Baroness also asked about planned expenditure on universities. She mentioned the sale of the student loans debt. That proposal had been made by her government in order to plug a gap in the PSBR. The new Government, having pledged before the election that for the first two years they would accept the public expenditure commitments of the previous government, have already started the sale of the student loans debt. But that was to plug a hole and it cannot be used for additional expenditure.

The noble Baroness also asked about the extra funding that will be raised from fees and from the abolition of the maintenance grant. I must remind her that in abolishing the maintenance grant the Government are making loans available to more people and increasing the size of those loans through an additional hardship loan. We shall also be doubling access funds.

I have pledged on a number of occasions—I repeat it now—that the moneys from the charges which are to be made to students in respect of fees will be available for further and higher education. They will be put back into the system.

I believe that I have more or less covered the questions which the noble Baroness asked, other than the final question in which I was asked to guarantee that the level of expenditure we are announcing today will last, whatever happens. The assumptions on which these expenditure proposals have been made are cautious and carefully constructed. The Government have every intention of ensuring that they will be met.

Lord Renton of Mount Harry

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for giving way. In answer to my noble friend, she said something that I did not understand.

Baroness Blackstone

My Lords, I am responding to the Front Bench speakers and I have not yet dealt with the noble Baroness, Lady Maddock. I do not believe that the rules of the House allow a Back-Bencher to intervene.

I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Maddock, for her welcome of the Statement, and in particular the fact that it covers all sectors. We are determined to support not only pupils at school, but also students in further and higher education and those institutions. The noble Baroness said that she did not believe that we had done enough during the past two years. Perhaps I may remind her that we went into the general election making it clear that we would have a comprehensive spending review, that that would take some time, and that until it was complete we would stick with the public expenditure proposals of the previous government.

The noble Baroness also raised questions about school building. We are greatly increasing the amount of capital available for school building. I believe that that will achieve many of the changes for which she has asked. She is right in saying that we have inherited a very unsatisfactory position as regards the accommodation in which our children must operate and learn. We must do something about that.

I have dealt with the point about teachers. The final point raised by the noble Baroness related to our statement that we were setting demanding targets for every pound of new funding. That is right. We will make a further announcement in the Autumn about those targets, extending them into the older age groups which are not yet covered by post-school provision. Of course, we will want to monitor our performance against those targets. There would not be a great deal of sense in having them unless we were to do so.

Baroness Blatch

My Lords, before the noble Baroness sits down, there was a question which she did not answer. That may be my fault and if it is, I apologise in advance. I was talking about the class size pledge being met in the coming year. I know the figures for this year because they have been well trailed and mentioned by the noble Baroness in this House. I want the 1999–2000 figures. I do not believe that I am out of order because I am referring to a question that was not answered by the noble Baroness. I want to know the resources for 1999–2000. We are only 20 weeks away from that pledge having to be met in full. What are to be the resources for that year?

Baroness Blackstone

My Lords, I am sorry if I misunderstood the noble Baroness. I thought she was asking about 1998–99. We shall make further announcements about the detailed breakdown of how we shall meet that pledge in the near future.

4.51 p.m.

Lord Davies of Coity

My Lords, I want to take this opportunity to welcome this Statement, not just because of the £19 billion boost to education but also because of the way in which that money is to be used. I am somewhat disappointed that there was not a more enthusiastic welcome for it from the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch. However, I am probably more disappointed by the fact that she made a comparison with the amount of money that previous governments had spent on education since 1979.

I want the Minister to confirm that if the money that was devoted to education from 1979 had been spent correctly and properly, we would not have the current problems which mean that we now have to have this tidying-up exercise. For example, we should not have to reduce the size of classes in schools. We should not have to tackle levels of literacy and numeracy which are not good enough. We should not have to deal with the problem of truancy. That is to name just a few issues. Therefore, when noble Lords opposite boast about the spending of money, they should remember that it is the way in which it is spent that is important. This new Government are doing exactly that.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour

My Lords, on a point of order, are we not supposed to make very short contributions in order to ask a question?

Baroness Blackstone

My Lords, I understood my noble friend to ask if—and he did ask a question quite clearly—since 1979 there had been devoted to education the kind of funding which it needed and the kind of funding which this new Government are now proposing, we would now have the current problems of large class sizes, declining school buildings and so on. My noble friend's question was perfectly clear and I cannot understand why the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy, should take up the rather limited time that we have to deal with questions from Back Bench Peers by querying whether my noble friend asked a question.

I can confirm that over the years of the previous Conservative government, there was an average increase of only 1.5 per cent. in spending on education. That is the average increase in expenditure. I can confirm also that spending over the next three years will increase by 5.1 per cent. I hope that that answers my noble friend's perfectly well put question.

Lord Beloff

My Lords, your Lordships may be surprised to know that I spend a lot of time trying to think of something nice to say to the Minister. On this occasion, I can. Universities will be delighted by the announcement of a great deal more money for science.

But that leads to a question because the noble Baroness said also that some of the money which will come from student fees would go to further education and not only to higher education. It seems to me that unless the universities receive all that money—and possibly more—there will not be the infrastructure to make use of that extremely important additional resource for science.

Baroness Blackstone

My Lords, in addition to the announcement by my right honourable friend the President of the Board of Trade of a very large increase of £1.1 billion on science expenditure over the next three years, my department will, in the first year of this settlement, be putting in another £50 million on top of that.

The additional money which the universities will receive will be much more than the net increase available from the charging of fees. Therefore, again, the universities will welcome what the Government are doing.

Lord Dixon-Smith

My Lords, it is a popular fallacy to equate volume of expenditure with quality of outcome. Certainly nobody who has worked in, or had any association with, education in the Home Counties and who has watched the money which has poured into London schools can feel anything other than a certainty that there is no correlation at all. One accepts that in many London schools different and difficult social problems must be faced. But all too often, those social problems are excuses for a poor outcome rather than the reasons for it.

I assume that the Minister's Statement refers to England and Wales. If that is the limitation that is put upon it, the sums of money provided will be transferred in due course to Scotland via the Barnett formula so that the effect there will be somewhat similar. Therefore, the figures which I am about to produce, which fortunately I did not have to produce yesterday, are nevertheless valid. They make the point and I shall then come to my question.

In England, a pupil in a sixth form costs on average £2,290 per year whereas in Scotland that same pupil in a secondary school costs £2,960. Those are annual costs. An English secondary education, therefore, costs £13,740 whereas a Scottish secondary education costs £14,800.

We need to be concerned about quality. The fact is that when the Scots go to university—and we have heard a great deal about that—they require four years to achieve their degree whereas English students, who have cost £1,000 per student less over their period in secondary school, need only three years to achieve their degree.

The question I ask is: how is the quality control as regards that massive increase in expenditure to be measured? What happens if the money is simply churned into the system and the quality does not improve? Will there be any sanctions to ensure that there is some come-back if the volume is up but the output remains the same?

Baroness Blackstone

My Lords, I was rather confused by the noble Lord's argument. On the one hand, he seemed to be suggesting that large amounts of additional expenditure have little to do with quality of outcome yet on the other hand he was concerned also that we might not achieve the required level of quality in sixth forms in England and Wales, if I understood him rightly—

Lord Dixon-Smith

My Lords, I apologise to the noble Baroness if I did not explain myself clearly. I am not concerned about quality in either England or Scotland. However, I am concerned about whether the additional money will produce any additional quality or whether it will simply go into the system and churn up the volume.

Baroness Blackstone

My Lords, I assumed that that was what the noble Lord was getting round to by a slightly circuitous route. The noble Lord is right to ask that question. It is vitally important that we ensure that we achieve the very best value for money, although the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, from the Front Bench, said that she does not want interference in schools or colleges. There must be some checks on the expenditure and on performance and quality.

Of course, we will be rewarding institutions the performance of which is high and, indeed, we will be rewarding teachers whose performance is high. Right through the system we want in place proper quality assessment schemes. We already have one available for universities. We also have a further education system of inspection. There is also Ofsted which inspects our schools. That process is a very important way of testing out whether individual institutions are up to scratch.

However, at the same time, through our system of targets we shall also be monitoring and evaluating the impact of this expenditure on the overall performance of the system. Again, I accept that that is vitally important. I should tell the noble Lord that I believe that most teachers, most lecturers in further education and most university teachers are crying out for more resources. They will welcome what has been announced today.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

My Lords, I welcome the Statement, especially as regards the substantial additional resources which will be going into our schools. I also welcome it because of the certainty which a three-year settlement will bring. All too often in the education service—and, indeed, in other public services—the annual spending round means that short-term decisions tend to be made. I believe that many people in the education system will very much welcome the certainty which this three-year plan will bring.

However, does my noble friend the Minister agree that these measures, which will undoubtedly bring a very great deal of confidence to the state education system and certainly to parents, depend crucially on our teachers and on their having confidence in the future? On the crucial issue of recruitment and retention, does my noble friend agree that, although pay is undoubtedly an important issue, what is more relevant is the esteem in which teachers are held by people in this country? In that regard, I welcome the new grade of the advanced skill teacher as a means of enhancing the reputation of teachers, keeping them in the classroom and rewarding them for good performance.

Does my noble friend the Minister further agree that, although the recruitment of young teachers to the profession is important at present, so too is dealing with the problems that we are experiencing because many thousands of experienced teachers are retiring all too early from the teaching profession? Can my noble friend assure me that the Government have some plans for dealing with that issue?

The Government must recognise that the role of head teachers in schools can be crucially important in retaining teachers, in giving the right leadership and in ensuring that, where teachers face very stressful situations, they receive support from the senior management of the school. Indeed, we must recognise the very important role that head teachers have to play in leading their schools, in supporting teachers and in adapting to the enormous changes that are taking place in our schools. Can my noble friend say whether a little of the money that has been allocated will be invested in management development training and support for head teachers?

Baroness Blackstone

My Lords, I entirely accept that it is crucial for us to support our teachers and that we should do everything we can to boost their confidence, to raise the public esteem in which they are held and to increase the status of the profession. The Government will be introducing a whole variety of initiatives in that respect. My noble friend referred to the advanced skill teacher grade, which I mentioned earlier. I believe that that will be a most important new development. We have also just taken legislation through the House which will set up a General Teaching Council. That is also extremely important from the point of view of giving teachers some ownership of their professional standards.

We are introducing a new scheme of induction to support young teachers. They are among the group to which I believe my noble friend was referring when he talked about stress among teachers. I know that young teachers very often find the early years of teaching extremely stressful.

However, perhaps I may now turn to head teachers. My noble friend rightly singled them out for praise and attached a great deal of importance to them. They are very important; indeed, head teachers lead our schools. We are introducing a mandatory qualification for head teachers, together with the necessary training to go with it. That will help both to raise their status and to improve the management skills that they will need.

Finally, my noble friend mentioned early retirement among teachers. Again, that is something which went on all too frequently in the latter years of the previous government. This Government have no intention of allowing that to continue.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour

My Lords, can the Minister tell the House what the implications are as regards the increases in higher and further education? For the sake of clarification, am I right in thinking that, because those figures are stated in cash terms, higher education will receive a 5.7 per cent. increase in the year 1999–2000 in cash terms and that further education will receive 8.2 per cent.? However, if inflation should, unfortunately, stand at, say, 4 per cent., does that mean that higher education will receive 1.7 per cent., while further education will receive 4.2 per cent.? Is that what the figures really mean?

Having said that, perhaps I may now make one comment that I meant to make earlier. I am most interested in the Sure Start programme. Indeed, I look forward to hearing more about that and how it will work, together with seeing how it develops, bearing in mind the enormous sum of money that has been put into it. There are great possibilities in that respect.

Baroness Blackstone

My Lords, the noble Baroness is absolutely right that the figures she quoted initially were set out in cash terms. However, the figures she quoted for the real-term improvements are not correct. It will be 5.5 per cent. in real terms for further education colleges, as against 8.2 per cent. in cash terms. In higher education, the figure will be 3 per cent. in real terms.

As regards the Sure Start initiative, this is a new interdepartmental programme for pre-school children and their families in areas which are most in need of extra support. It will provide a range of services to promote the physical, intellectual and social development of young children, especially those who are in any way disadvantaged. By the year 2001–2002, Sure Start funding will be £184 million. There will be a further £250 million for the extra nursery places that we shall be providing for three year-olds, together with a further £170 million for childcare provision. I hope that that answers the noble Baroness's questions.

Lord Pilkington of Oxenford

My Lords, as a former teacher, I hope that I do not seem too mercenary in what I say. I realise that esteem is very valuable; but it does not buy the bread or pay the mortgage. Therefore, can the Minister say what proportion of the money that we are discussing has been allocated to teachers' salaries? Further, can she say what allowance has been made for any rise in the rate of inflation?

Baroness Blackstone

No, my Lords; I cannot give the noble Lord those figures. Teachers' salaries are set by an independent review committee. It will be for that body to advise the Government as to what would be an appropriate increase in salaries. However, the Government will be asking the bodies that are responsible for the pay of teachers—whether in schools or in the post-school sector—to take into account the questions of recruitment, retention and morale which I mentioned earlier.