Provision for local authority current expenditure on education in 1985–86 is increased by nearly £300 million over previous plans, when allowance is made for the abolition of the national insurance surcharge and the transfer of some funds to the Manpower Services Commission. For universities, additional resources have been provided for the improvement on a selective basis of science equipment in universities, but planned recurrent expenditure is slightly reduced as a consequence of the revised pay assumption.
Why does the Minister behave like Pontius Pilate in blaming local authorities for his own actions? Surely he is calling the tune because he is refusing to pay the piper. Does the right hon. Gentleman not realise that, for instance, in the White Paper there is an 11·3 per cent. cut in revenue for special education provision for those in most need, the disabled and the handicapped, and a dramatic cut in capital expenditure for provision for the under-fives, when only about 40 per cent. of them can participate is such education? Does not the right hon. Gentleman not accept that — [HON. MEMBERS: "Too long."] You would have thought, Mr. Speaker, that as honours have been heaped upon me by my school, unlike other hon. Members, they would listen with some respect. [Interruption.] Conservative Members have raised the subject enough today. Does the right hon. Gentleman not accept that the provisions in the Government's public expenditure White Paper mark an attack on education provision?
The hon. Gentleman is forgetting, first, that there is still a fall in the number of children in schools, secondly, that there is an unallocated margin in addition to that shown for education, part of which will be spent on education; and thirdly, that I announced in my answer to him an increase of £300 million.
Does my right hon. Friend acknowledge that much of the money that is set aside in the White Paper for education provision will go to secondary school pupils between the age of 11 and 16 who will not take their places at school because they are hard-core truants? Is there not a link between hard-core truancy and teenage crime? Will my right hon. Friend set about discussing with colleagues in the Home Office how that evil can be stamped out?