HC Deb 27 March 1987 vol 113 cc275-6W
Mr. Pike

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a statement on his meeting on 24 March regarding capital allocations with Lancashire county council representatives.

Mr. Dunn

My right hon. Friend received an all-party delegation from the Lancashire county council on 24 March to discuss the Lancashire education authority's capital allocation for 1987–88. The delegation expressed concern that the allocation of £5.994 million represented only 32 per cent. of the authority's planned expenditure, and was only half the size of its allocation for 1986–87. The delegation explained that the size of the allocation meant that the authority would be unable to make progress in replacing and improving old and sub-standard school accommodation; and asked for an increase in the allocation.

My right hon. Friend said that he could not increase the authority's allocation for 1987–88, since the available resources had been distributed. He explained that the Government treated all authorities on exactly the same basis in considering their capital expenditure plans, and that the reason Lancashire had not received a larger allocation was that the authority's plans for capital expenditure on schools failed to take account of the Government's stated priorities: these were, first, to meet the cost (up to a limit previously notified to the authority) of capital projects which had already started, and, second, to allow for projects designed either to provide for basic need in areas of population growth or to remove surplus school accommodation. He pointed out that two thirds of the Lancashire authority's planned spending was for improvement or replacement projects, to which the Government gave a lower priority in allocating the available resources.

My right hon. Friend said that the Department was ready to discuss with the Lancashire authority its plans for expenditure in subsequent years, and suggested that officials from the Department hold an early meeting with officers from the authority.