§ Mr. Hunter
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps she is taking to reduce the pay gap between school teachers and college lecturers. 
§ Margaret Hodge
Teachers in maintained schools are subject to national schoolteachers' pay and conditions. Further education sector colleges are run by independent corporations established under the Further Education and Higher Education Act 1992 and there is no national pay structure in place. Colleges are free to establish pay scales that meet their needs and can be agreed with their staff. This Government have acknowledged the historic funding gap between schools and FE and we have pledged to bring up levels of funding and ensure upward convergence over time. Annual funding for FE has increased by over £1.1 billion between 1997 and 2002–03, up to around £4.3 billion. With a further increase of £300 million planned next year, the real terms increase in total funding between 1997 and 2003–04 will be 26 per cent. The Teaching Pay Initiative (TPI) budget is £31 1 million over the period 2001–04. This is to reward excellent teaching and is over and above any general pay rise. The additional investment we are making in the FE sector should help meet the pay aspirations of their staff.