Textbooks (Expenditure)

Oral Answers to Questions — Wales – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 19th November 1984.

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Photo of Mr Gareth Wardell Mr Gareth Wardell , Gower 12:00 am, 19th November 1984

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what was the expenditure on books per pupil in (a) primary and (b) secondary schools in West Glamorgan, Mid-Glamorgan and South Glamorgan in 1983–84; and what is the proposed expenditure for 1984–85.

Photo of Mr John Stradling Thomas Mr John Stradling Thomas , Monmouth

As the answer is a long one I shall, with permission, circulate the details in the Official Report.

Photo of Mr Gareth Wardell Mr Gareth Wardell , Gower

As the figures supplied to me by the Welsh counties show that two of the three for which I requested figures will spend less on books per primary school pupil this year than last year, and as two of the Welsh counties are at the bottom of the spending league in this respect out of all 47 non-metropolitan counties, will the Minister set a level of expenditure on books so that education standards can be guaranteed for the children of Wales in the future? Will the Minister give that undertaking today rather than the usual pat answer that it is for the local authority to decide, thus making scapegoats of the Welsh counties yet again?

Photo of Mr John Stradling Thomas Mr John Stradling Thomas , Monmouth

The hon. Gentleman has indeed answered his own question, because, as he well knows, with his considerable experience in education, expenditure on school books is determined by the local education authorities. However, when allowance has been made for the effects of pay and price increases, the local authorities' current expenditure on education has remained at a virtually constant level for a number of years, while the number of pupils in schools has declined markedly. Those facts are not consistent with allegations of heavy cuts.

Photo of Mr Peter Hubbard-Miles Mr Peter Hubbard-Miles , Bridgend

Does my hon. Friend agree that while books are an important element in the education of children, the standard and quality of teaching is even more important? In the three Glamorgan authorities, have not standards of teaching been irrepairably damaged by the notorious system of appointments and promotions in which a teacher's qualities are far less important than his relationship to the local Labour party?

Photo of Mr John Stradling Thomas Mr John Stradling Thomas , Monmouth

I should like to reinforce the point that the number of pupils—[Interruption.] I am answering my hon. Friend's question, which relates to expenditure by LEAs, including expenditure on books. The number of pupils has dropped by nearly 12 per cent., but the number of teachers by only about 3 per cent. That being so, it is for the local education authorities to re-examine carefully their management and expenditure policies.

Following are the details:

Expenditure figures for 1983–84 which are available are calculated in terms of books and equipment taken together
Primary SchoolsSecondary Schools
West Glamorgan23·342·6
South Glamorgan*18·833·6
* Provisional outturn figures.

The education authorities' estimated figures for 1984–85 for books and equipment have been published by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy as follows:
Primary SchoolsSecondary Schools
West Glamorgan22·035·0
South Glamorgan19·037·0