My Department's Circular No. 12/65, copies of which I am sending to the hon. Members, set out the detailed application of the restrictions on capital expenditure announced on 27th July last.
I cannot say which individual projects would have started in any given period if restrictions had not been imposed, but I estimate that in England and Wales teacher training projects to the value of £5 million and further education projects to the value of £9 million, which would have started in the period August to January, 1966, have been deferred.
In view of all the statements that have been made by the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues, does he not realise that there ought not to be any deferments in building teacher training colleges if we are to get the number of teachers so badly needed?
I realise two things. First, we should all be in a much better position had we not inherited a £800 million deficit. Secondly, despite the deferments of which the hon. Member is aware, the capital investment programme for colleges of education has risen from £1·5 million in 1959–60 to £5·5 million this year.
Do not the figures the right hon. Gentleman has announced show a very serious situation as £9 million is more than one-third of the total programme for technical colleges and £5 million is more than half the annual building programme for colleges of education? Is he aware that we on this side of the House are certainly proud of the fact that we approved £60 million worth of building starts for training colleges in the last Parliament and, in view of the tremendous efforts which they are making, we believe it an unhappy choice of priorities to make these very considerable cuts in the programme?
Of course it is a serious situation in which the country finds itself at the moment, but what the right hon. Member must do is to search his conscience and ask himself whether, given the situation which he and his party bequeathed to us, we could have got away without doing more.
I am extremely conscious of the importance of technical education to long-term economic prospects. For that reason, the capital investment figures for technical education given in the National Plan show a rate of investment over the next four years roughly double that of the last four years.