Summary figures for these ratios have long been included in the report on education and science presented annually to Parliament. More detailed information is given in the Department's statistical bulletins.
Will the Minister accept that the proposed rate-capping legislation is likely to have a substantial effect on pupil-teacher ratios? Will he ensure that the figures are published within a few months after the passing of the rate-capping legislation so that we can see the effects on pupil-teacher ratios?
I note what the hon. Gentleman has said. Staffing provision is the responsibility of local education authorities. It is for them to decide the number of teachers to deploy in their local areas. It is a matter for them and is clearly known as such.
If we are to provide more teachers in the education service, does my hon. Friend agree that they, too, have a responsibility when their organisations seek wage and salary increases to keep those increases at a moderate level, so that more resources can be spent on real forms of education, instead of on wages and salaries?
Will the Minister answer the question that was put to him by the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire, North-East (Mr. Freud)? If, under the Bill that was published today, local education authorities are prevented from increasing their rates, what effect will that have on teacher-pupil ratios?
Is the Minister aware that the real education picture, as shown in the HMI report, is one of shortages of teachers, inadequate curriculums, not enough books and materials, and an increasingly urgent need for repairs to school buildings? Does he agree, as the local education authorities told the Secretary of State, that the situation will only be made worse by the level of RSG settlement for 1984–85 and by the Bill published today to take away the ability of LEAs to charge rates as they think fit? How will the Government Actuary's report, which is published today, on the increase in teacher pension contributions affect the financial position of LEAs?
I am happy to tell the hon. Gentleman and the House that pupil-techer ratios are at their best level ever. That is a matter of pride, and we expect the trend to continue into the coming year. I am happy to give the House that information. It is good news which should be welcomed in a robust fashion.