Orders of the Day — Inner London Education Authority (Precept Limitation)

– in the House of Commons at 10:27 pm on 10th February 1986.

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Photo of Sir Keith Joseph Sir Keith Joseph , Leeds North East 10:27 pm, 10th February 1986

I beg to move, That the draft Precept Limitation (Prescribed Maximum) (Inner London Education Authority) Order 1986, which was laid before this House on 29th January, be approved.

This order limits the precept which may be made for the financial year 1986–87 by the new Inner London education authority which takes over from the old ILEA on 1 April 1986. A shadow authority—the Inner London interim education authority is responsible for issuing this precept. Under the Local Government Act 1985, the new ILEA is automatically designated for precept limitation for the first three years of its existence—from 1986–87 to 1988–89. Because it is, in effect, a single service authority, I am responsible for this limitation. Its purpose is to protect ratepayers from high rates caused by high spending. Lower business rates also protect jobs. Although ILEA is automatically designated, it would, in view of its expenditure, have come well within the criteria for selective rate capping this year. Its 1985–86 budget was 5 per cent. above its expenditure target, itself related to the authority's past spending, and 70 per cent. above GRE.

I shall describe briefly the processes leading to this draft order. The Government have not reached a quick or sudden decision. Consideration began in July last year when I announced my intention to propose an expenditure level for the new ILEA for 1986–87 of £902 million. I confirmed that figure in September, as soon as the interim ILEA was established. At the end of October, the interim ILEA applied for a redetermined expenditure level, citing a range of £995 million to £1,025 million. I considered its case, and in December redetermined the expenditure level at £915 million. My conclusions were based on judgments which differed sharply from those of the interim ILEA in three main areas. First and most important, I took the view that the volume of the ILEA's expenditure should be substantially reduced. Secondly, I believed that the abolition of the GLC need not substantially increase ILEA's central administrative costs above its already high levels. Thirdly, I used the Government's forecast of inflation next year at 4·5 per cent. rather than the significantly higher figure favoured by the interim ILEA. In the event, I added £13 million to the expenditure level for largely technical reasons, but did not agree to make the substantial increase which the interim ILEA requested to maintain its expenditure at its present level.

Following the redetermination of the expenditure level, I proposed a precept maximum of 76·5p, also in December. That proposed precept maximum was derived from the redetermined expenditure level and from an assessment of the reserves available to the authority. It implied drawing down £39 million from reserves to relieve the precept.

In January, the interim ILEA refused the proposed precept maximum of 76·5p, and presented further evidence in support of a substantially higher precept. I examined all the evidence afresh, including further representations from the ILEA, and decided that it would be appropriate to assume the drawing of slightly less from reserves in support of the precept. Therefore, I invited the interim ILEA to agree to a precept maximum of 77·25p, which was based on the same redetermined expenditure level of £915 million, but assumed the drawing of only £31 million from reserves.

The interim ILEA has refused to accept the new figure. In the absence of agreement, I decided to lay the draft order embodying a figure of 77·25p, which is now before the House. I did that because I wanted to establish a final precept maximum before the date of 15 February set out in the Rates Act 1984, in order to end uncertainty and to give the interim ILEA time to draw up a budget consistent with the precept maximum. At the same time, I made it clear to the interim ILEA that my door was open for further discussions.

This afternoon I met members of the interim ILEA. They proposed to me that we should agree on a precept maximum of 80·75p. That would be an increase of some 4·5 per cent. above the ILEA precept for 1985-86. It could be used to finance a budget of some £950 million, if about £27 million were drawn from reserves. Such a budget would be some £45 million less than the interim ILEA has previously claimed that it needs to spend. I have carefully considered that proposition. However, I have told the ILEA that I do not believe that extra expenditure of £35 million above the expenditure level which I redetermined in December would be necessary to maintain existing standards of education in inner London. Nor do I believe that the ratepayer should be asked to pay 4·5 per cent. more in 1986–87. Therefore, my judgment remains that the precept maximum of 77·25p embodied in the draft order is appropriate. I shall now explain why I consider the precept maximum of 77·25p to be appropriate, in terms both of the level of expenditure which it implies and of the effect on the ratepayer.

The ILEA has to contend with grave problems in discharging its duties to educate the people of inner London. The Government have never denied that. Our own assessments of cost allow for the extra costs imposed by concentrations of ethnic minorities, one-parent families, bad housing conditions and family poverty. But the ILEA spends far more than other inner city authorities. Even allowing for the extra cost of salaries in London, it has been spending some 30 per cent. more per pupil than Manchester, Liverpool or Newcastle, and some 60 per cent. more per pupil than Birmingham. ILEA's pupil-teacher ratios are markedly more generous than the average for other inner city authorities. The differences between ILEA and others in non-teaching staff ratios are even more marked. Very large capitation allowances and a perverse charging policy also swell the authority's expenditure. It is unique among LEAs in having held its school meal charge at 35p since 1980.

The ILEA cannot justify this extra cost to the ratepayer in terms of the quality of its service. The evidence suggests that, when account is taken of pupils' circumstances, the attainment of pupils in ILEA schools is no better than that of pupils in comparable inner city authorities. The fact is that the ILEA has not made effective use of the huge sums which it has levied from its ratepayers. Let me give an example. The most important asset for any LEA is a well-managed teacher force of good quality, properly deployed. But the ILEA has allowed surplus teachers to accumulate on the staffs of its schools. That is not good either for the work of the schools or the morale of the teachers. The Government have made clear over a number of years their wish to see lower expenditure by the ILEA. Pupil numbers have fallen by more than 20 per cent. in six years, but over the same period the authority's expenditure has been more or less steady in real terms. Its teacher force has indeed reduced but at much less than in proportion to pupil numbers so that pupil-teacher ratios have improved by 12·5 per cent. from the generous levels of 1978–79. Instead of using even the small saving in teacher numbers to reduce the burden on the ratepayer, the authority has added it back elsewhere in its budget.

My expenditure level implied a 6 per cent. reduction in the volume of ILEAs expenditure. It cannot seriously be claimed that such a cut would of itself put at risk the authority's performance of its statutory duties. Expenditure per pupil would still be more than 20 per cent. above that of Manchester, Liverpool or Newcastle. More serious perhaps is the ILEA claim that the movement all at once to the lower level of expenditure would cause serious disruption. I assure the House that other local education authorities have achieved reductions from one year to the next of 6 per cent. and achieved them from a base level of expenditure much lower than the ILEA's. But the ILEA has argued—

Photo of Sir Keith Joseph Sir Keith Joseph , Leeds North East

I would rather not do so. I shall ask the House to allow me to reply at the end of the debate and I shall take questions then. I want to read this carefully prepared explanation of why I am imposing a precept maximum on the ILEA. I shall answer questions at the end of the debate, subject to the House giving me leave to reply.

The ILEA has argued that those other authorities took longer to prepare their reductions and that it cannot be expected to achieve a 6 per cent. reduction in 1986–87 starting from now. I ask the House to assess the worth of that argument in the light of what the authority has done since Parliament first gave the Government powers to limit rates and precepts.

There has been ample time to undertake a planned and managed reduction of its expenditure in response to Government policies. The expenditure level set for 1985–86 implied substantial reductions. The authority chose to take no action, but to rely upon its limited reserves to keep up spending. The expenditure level for 1986–87 has been known since July; but, instead of planning towards a budget in line with it, the interim ILEA spent months drawing up a budget at constant volume, so the ILEA has made its own task harder. Notwithstanding that, the Government have concluded that so high is ILEA's present level of expenditure that a volume reduction of 6 per cent. is practicable and attainable even from a standing start. I am satisfied that it remains appropriate to ask for that.

Photo of Sir Keith Joseph Sir Keith Joseph , Leeds North East

In reaching my conclusions, I also had regard to the impact on ratepayers. Rate bills in inner London are high. Much of that is accounted for by the ILEA precept. The average domestic ratepayer is paying a sum approaching £250 a year on top of what he pays for the services of his local borough, the Metropolitan police and LRT. The average shop is paying about £1,500, and the average office £11,000. Large commercial enterprises, of course face much larger bills. In total, the burden of the ILEA on inner London ratepayers is almost £900 million a year.

The ratepayer should be protected from further increases. The precept maximum incorporated in the draft order represents a standstill on the ILEA precept for 1985–86, so the average ratepayer should pay the same in cash as he paid in 1985–86. In contrast, the sort of figures considered by the interim ILEA—and which I do not doubt it would have imposed but for precept limitation — would have entailed an increase in the precept of some 16 per cent. That would have meant another £40 for the average domestic ratepayer, £250 for the average shop and £1,750 for the average office. Ratepayers should not have to pay in this way for the expansion of an already extravagant service.

That is why this draft order has been laid before the House, and that is why I ask the House to approve it.

Photo of Mr Giles Radice Mr Giles Radice Shadow Secretary of State for Education 10:40 pm, 10th February 1986

The Opposition will be voting against the order, because that is the only way open to us to express our opposition to the level of precept that the Secretary of State is imposing on ILEA.

It is wrong in principle for a Secretary of State to impose by order on the citizens of inner London his diktat on the maximum that should be spent on education. It is one thing for central Government to have a view on the minimum standards, although the Government remained disappointingly silent when the inadequacies of the Somersets, the Herefords and Worcestershires, the Kent, and the like have been exposed by the Secretary of State's advisers, the HMI. It is quite another for central Government to impose their will on maximum standards of provision, as under the order.

It is ironic that this Secretary of State, who has spoken and written so much about the overmighty state, should in practice be the Minister who has assumed the most extensive centralising powers. He obviously believes the dictum that Elizabeth house knows best. In this case, Elizabeth house not only does not know best, but has little idea of the likely impact of the cut being imposed on ILEA.

Photo of Mr Giles Radice Mr Giles Radice Shadow Secretary of State for Education

I shall not give way, as I should like to develop my speech.

The reality, as the Secretary of State knows, is that ILEA is already planning to make savings of around £18 million, as a consequence of falling rolls and improved efficiency. Even the Secretary of State admits that the consequence of the imposing of the precept of 77·25p in the pound will mean volume cuts of 6 per cent., or £55 million in the coming year. The scale of cuts is likely to be considerably greater. First, ILEA believes that the Department has underestimated by £13 million the extra cost of setting up the new education authority. Secondly, it is clear that the 4·5 per cent. that the right hon. Gentleman mentioned, which he is assuming for pay and price increases in the coming year, does not take account of the spill-over effect of the provisional teacher's settlement for this year—which I remind the House is end-loaded to 8·5 per cent.—or of the manual workers' settlement. If we look a year ahead, we see that the Secretary of State has often told the House about his offer of Government money for a deal on structure and conditions of service, but if such a settlement is reached the Inner London education authority will not benefit because it does not receive rate support grant. Indeed, it stands to lose because it will be bound by any agreement that may be reached. In other words, a long-term settlement next year would, in ILEA's case, be at the expense of further cuts. Is the Secretary of State aware of this? As he is to answer questions at the end of the debate, he might care to write down that one.

The Secretary of State has argued that the kind of contingencies to which I have referred will be fully covered by ILEA's balances, but, as Maurice Stonefrost, the clerk to the authority, pointed out in a letter to Sir David Hancock, the permanent secretary at the Department of Education and Science, the level of balances assumed to be satisfactory by the DES are, in his professional judgment, dangerously low. In fact, there is a real danger that the authority would be faced, in the words of Maurice Stonefrost, with a deficit financing position in its budget process. In other words, it could run out of money during the coming year. Are this Government and this Secretary of State trying to impose an illegal budget on ILEA? I should like the Secretary of State to answer that question, too.

The consequences of even the level of cuts envisaged by the Secretary of State are likely to be extremely disruptive. The highly respected ILEA education officer, William Stubbs—I do not know whether the Secretary of State has ever run an education authority, so I should prefer to take the education officer's word against his, if he does not mind—has told Sir David Hancock that this scale of reductions would mean that the authority would be able to replace only one in three of any staff who leave the service in 1986–87. He said: It can be forecast with certainty that these vacancies would not occur evenly and many schools and colleges would be unable to replace key members of staff during the course of the financial year. Not only would curtailment of the education service become inevitable, but the maintenance of adequate standards of provision would be put at risk.

Photo of Mr Giles Radice Mr Giles Radice Shadow Secretary of State for Education

No, I should like to finish this quotation. I shall then give way. Mr. Stubbs then said: I would have to advise of the probability of the service breaking down in some areas, with the authority being unable to guarantee to fulfil at all times the whole range of its statutory obligations, leading to the near certainty of legal challenge for such failure to comply with its duties. Again, are this Government trying to force ILEA to ignore its statutory obligations and to act illegally? I shall now give way to the hon. Gentleman.

Photo of Mr Tony Marlow Mr Tony Marlow , Northampton North

I am very grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way. He knows that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science is referring to a 6 per cent. cut in expenditure. The hon. Gentleman says that it may be a little more than that; he may say that there will be a 10 per cent. cut in expenditure. ILEA spends roughly twice as much on primary school pupils as is spent upon primary school pupils in my constituency. My right hon. Friend has said that even allowing for London weighting this is 50 per cent. more than the average, and it is 30 per cent. more than is spent in Newcastle upon Tyne and 20 per cent. more than is spent in Birmingham. [HON. MEMBERS: "60 per cent."] Yes, 60 per cent. more than is spent in Birmingham. How on earth does the hon. Gentleman justify this vast level of extravagance by ILEA, even after the cuts?

Photo of Mr Giles Radice Mr Giles Radice Shadow Secretary of State for Education

ILEA is one of the few authorities which the Secretary of State's own advisers, Her Majesty's inspectorate, believe is spending up to the right kind of levels.

In that context it should be highly significant to the Secretary of State that even the London chamber of commerce and industry is concerned that cuts of that magnitude should not be compressed into one year, as the Secretary of State is trying to do.

Given the advice being offered to him, not only by respected officers of ILEA but by London business men and industrialists, the onus is on him to prove that such cuts will not harm or disrupt the education of Londoners, and he has not proved that tonight.

To any fair-minded person, it is frankly bizarre that the Government propose to cut at least £55 million in one year at a time when above all ILEA needs stability. The damage that has already been done to children's education by the teachers' dispute will in ILEA's case, be greatly compounded by the disruption of making the Secretary of State's cuts. The tragedy is that at a time when "firm and efficient management"—the Secretary of State's words — ought to be concentrated on establishing the new service and on raising standards in inner London, it will have to be spent on implementing cuts.

In that connection, let me quote a letter from the vice-chair of the parents' central consultative committee of ILEA. I believe that he has written to the Secretary of State tonight and that the letter has been endorsed by the chairs of all the parents' consultative committees of ILEA at a meeting earlier this evening. He says: Many of us remember what you"— the Secretary of State— told parents at Central Hall on 10th May 1984."— I was at that meeting, so I can remember too. 'The Government of the day will judge what can reasonably be expected as a reduction in ILEA's spending without damaging the quality of education, and that is the assurance I can give you.'It is the judgment of the Authority's most senior officers that, in fact, the reduction expected (indeed, demanded) would not only damage the quality of education, but could lead to the breakdown of the service during the course of the year.The ILEA has demonstrated its willingness to make savings that do not damage children's education, and we know that the judgment of these officers is based on a intimate knowledge of all the relevant facts. We therefore feel that there is an overwhelming obligation upon you to reconsider the decision you have made.It is quite clear that, unless the maximum precept is raised from the proposed 77·25p, the Authority is likely to be in an impossible situation before the end of the year.Whilst your judgment contradicts that of those responsible for running the ILEA's services, we feel that— in order to lend any credibility to your assurance of May '84—there is also an overwhelming obligation upon you to explain to parents (whose views you have so often claimed to respect) the reasoning behind your judgment, and to demonstrate that the quality of our children's education will not be damaged by the reduction you propose. If the Secretary of State will not answer our questions, he might at least answer the points put to him by London parents.

But, of course, the Secretary of State has heard all those facts before. Throughout the past two months he has learnt them from ILEA officials and councils. On Friday he heard them from my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition and myself when he met us at Elizabeth house.

Only a few hours ago, as the Secretary of State has told us, ILEA's leader, Mrs. Frances Morrell, and other ILEA councillors met with him to discuss compromise proposals by which the maximum precept would be raised to 80·75p. This would require the authority to contain within its budget the additional cost it faces in 1986–87 over and above the general rate of inflation.

ILEA accepts that it needs to control costs, but the Secretary of State is not prepared to give anything. His only response has been to raise the maximum precept by a marginal amount, as he has had to admit. We reject his approach to London's education and the nation's education. It is true that ILEA spends more than other education authorities, and so it should. On almost every count, ILEA has more to cope with—seven out of 10 of the most disadvantaged boroughs are in inner London; the population density is 10 times the national average; the number of one-parent families is twice the national average; the number of children taking school meals is twice the national average; and the number of children speaking English as a second language is four times the national average. Despite those problems, ILEA has massive achievements to its credit—extensive nursery provision, a good pupil-teacher ratio, generous provision for pupils with special needs and the most extensive adult education service in the United Kingdom.

The Secretary of State usually points to examination results. I think that he would have been a little more generous if he had said that the results in 1983 were the best since 1978 and that progress was maintained in 1984. Of course, as the Hargreaves, Thomas and Fish reports show, much more needs to be done in London education, as in the rest of the United Kingdom. I should have thought, as would most fair-minded people, that the creation of a directly elected authority would be an exciting opportunity to improve further the educational prospects for London's children. Instead, the Secretary of State, with his singular combination of ideological obsession and executive incompetence, typically plans to add to the chaos he has already created. Such recklessness can come only from a Minister who knows that his days are numbered.

It would be better for the Secretary of State and, more importantly, for the nation's education if he were to go now before he does any further damage. Whatever happens to the right hon. Gentleman, there is a ray of hope—Londoners will have the opportunity to say what they think about the Government's educational policies in the coming ILEA elections, which will be the first education election for a century, and in the coming Fulham by-election. I am confident what the people's verdict will be.

Photo of John Maples John Maples , Lewisham West 10:58 pm, 10th February 1986

The hon. Member for Durham, North (Mr. Radice) has repeated some of the current crop of ILEA scare stories about the irreparable damage that will be done to London education becaue of these proposals. I think that we would be justified in inviting the hon. Gentleman to remember that, about this time last year, the same prophecies of doom and gloom were emanating from county hall about the irreparable damage done by last year's expenditure limits, and none of them has been borne out.

Only days ago, the controlling group on ILEA was suggesting that if ILEA could not spend £995 million, irreparable damage would be done. Now, apparently £950 million is enough to stop irreparable damage from being done. The amount has fallen by approximately £45 million in about 48 hours.

The question to which the hon. Member for Durham, North singularly failed to address himself—and whoever sums up for the Opposition must address this question—is: why does it cost 60 per cent. more on a unit cost basis to educate a child in an ILEA secondary school than it costs in Birmingham, and 40 per cent. more than in some outer London boroughs? [Interruption.]

I do not know what the hon. Member for Durham. North said from his sedentary position, but if he is saying that it costs more to do things and there are more problems in central London, we would agree. But are there 60 per cent. more problems in central London than there are in Birmingham?

Photo of Frank Dobson Frank Dobson Shadow Minister (Health)

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the costs of the Metropolitan police are disproportionately greater than the costs of the police in areas outside London? So it is with the costs of the ILEA.

Photo of John Maples John Maples , Lewisham West

I was not aware of that. I should not have thought that the same considerations would apply to education. If what the hon. Gentleman says is true, it may be an argument for reducing the costs of the Metropolitan police, not for increasing the costs of education.

The hon. Gentleman and the Labour party have consistently failed to address the question: why does it cost so much more? Last year expenditure was reduced by 4 or 5 per cent., and none of those adverse consequences occurred. It is not credible to suggest that a further 4 or 5 per cent. reduction this year will result in irreparable damage. My right hon. Friend has it about right. It is reasonable to ask that expenditure should stay at about the same in cash terms.

The ILEA is putting about serious scare stories regarding the consequences of this measure, as it did last year, and that is worrying parents a great deal. It would help if my right hon. Friend would itemise the differences between authorities such as Birmingham and London, and show how savings could be made in a way which will not damage education. We know that they can be made.

There are considerable differences in staffing ratios, charges for some adult education courses and expenditure on property and property maintenance in ILEA. Therefore, considerable savings can be made. I invite my right hon. Friend to go into those matters in a little more detail so that parents will realise that the authority can make modest savings without damaging education.

Photo of Mr Chris Smith Mr Chris Smith , Islington South and Finsbury

The hon. Gentleman's constituents and mine have to contribute through their taxes to other children around the country, but they have to fund the entire education service of inner London through their rates. How does he justify that difference?

Photo of John Maples John Maples , Lewisham West

I was coming to that point. Now that the ILEA is rate capped, it is difficult to justify the fact that it does not receive any rate support grant. The target and penalty system was designed to encourage local authorities to spend less—[Interruption.] It would probably help me to make the point if I were not subject to barracking from the Opposition. Despite the fact that I believe that the ILEA could make some modest savings without damaging education, it could not cut its expenditure to the point where it would receive any of this grant. If I remember the figures correctly, it would have to cut its expenditure by about £250 million to £300 million before it started to receive grant. It would have to reduce its expenditure to under £500 million to receive its full entitlement to rate support grant.

I should like my right hon. Friend to discuss with our right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment whether, now that ILEA has been rate capped and its total expenditure is under control and public expenditure nationally has been brought under control, it is unreasonable that it should receive no rate support grant. It is the only local education authority which does not receive any.

All of us, including Opposition Members, would like to see the ILEA receive the maximum possible value for money. One of the ways of achieving that would be to delegate far more control of expenditure, the budget and the budget management to schools, and to bypass the county hall-ILEA bureaucracy as much as possible.

I have tried out that idea on a few heads in my constituency, and almost without exception they have welcomed it and asked to be given the chance to try. If that is too radical to be implemented, on the basis that one should never do anything radical for the first time, we could perhaps try it with a few schools where it is felt that their make-up and size and the quality of the head could make some such system work. It would enable money to be spent in a particular school in a way which related to the needs of that school as perceived by the head, the staff and the governors—the people who are close to where the effect of those decisions will be felt—not at county hall.

Photo of Mr Harry Greenway Mr Harry Greenway , Ealing North

Does my hon. Friend agree that the alternative use of resources by schools—money which has been spent at the discretion of heads in consultation with staff — has been a satisfactory scheme, the bureaucracy at county hall having been kept out of it?

Photo of John Maples John Maples , Lewisham West

My hon. Friend gives a good example, but the AUR programmes in most schools represent a very small part of the money spent on the schools. It seems to me that that principle can be radically extended to give a particular school the total amount of money which is to be spent on that school by the local authority during a term, year or month, or whatever period of time it relates to, and for the school to decide how to spend it. It obviously has to do certain things—teach certain subjects and employ teachers — but basically the school can decide its priorities. First, that would break the monolithic nature of ILEA, which worries many of us. Secondly, we would get better value for money with a far greater degree of satisfaction on the part of head teachers, governors and staff in the schools which actually make the decisions.

The freeze on ILEA's spending in cash terms is acceptable and achievable without any of the horrendous results predicted by the Opposition. However, it would help if my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State would explain in detail how those savings can be made without irreparable damage to education. I ask him to consider in some detail the two specific points that I have mentioned: first, that it is no longer reasonable that ILEA should receive no rate support grant now that it has been rate-capped; and, secondly, the concept of delegating management of budget and finances to individual schools.

Photo of Mr John Cartwright Mr John Cartwright , Woolwich 11:07 pm, 10th February 1986

I make it clear at the outset that alliance Members will vote against the order, first, because we are still opposed to the concept of rate capping. In our view, rate capping is wrong in principle. There is no point in having a directly elected Inner London education authority if we are taking from the electors of inner London the right to decide crucial issues affecting our authority. Its spending crucially should be decided by the electors, not by Ministers and civil servants in the Department of Education and Science. That is one objection to the principle of rate capping.

Secondly, we believe that rate capping is bureaucratic in operation and often wasteful in practice. If one has to apply damaging cuts at the last moment, the risk is that they are imposed not on the basis of any careful consideration of where the cuts can do least damage, but simply on the basis of where they can be made in a hurry. That can sometimes be crucial.

I believe, and I am sure my colleagues agree, that it is impossible to impose the sort of cuts which are talked about in the order without damaging the basic fabric of education. We have already heard the views of the education officer, Mr. Stubbs, but it is worth recalling one sentence of his letter dated 21 January 1986 to the Department of Education and Science: The consequence of expenditure reductions on such a scale could not avoid causing grave damage to the education service.

If Conservative Members are not impressed by that, perhaps I should quote from a letter from Professor David Smith, the leader of the Conservative group on the Inner London education authority who resigned recently and who gave some of the reasons for his resignation in a letter to the right hon. Member for Chingford (Mr. Tebbit). I quote from that letter: The recent decision by Central Government with respect to the precept limit for the Authority will result in cuts in the level of service; cuts that I believe will be disruptive to the education service". That is the view of the former Conservative leader in ILEA, and it should carry some weight with Conservative Members.

Having said that ILEA has a powerful case, I am bound to say that it is undermined by the point which was made by the hon. Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Maples). The shock horror stories about cuts would be much easier to accept this year if we had not heard absolutely the same stories last year. We heard them not only from ILEA, but from the Greater London council, and from inner London boroughs that were rate capped last year. We were told in banners across every public building that rate capping meant cuts. We were told that rate capping was the end of civilization as we knew it in inner London.

What has happened? That spending has gone on as if there were no problem. There have been no cuts and no redundancies. Therefore, it is hardly surprising if the Government, on the one hand, and the electors in inner London, on the other, take the view that it is just another set of stories like the ones that they were told last year. I believe that there is much more basis to the shock horror stories this year, but the ILEA cannot be surprised if, having cried wolf last year, it finds that the electorate do not respond to cries of wolf on this occasion.

ILEA has not responded to the obvious threat of rate capping. There has been no attempt to plan for the inevitable. The leaders of ILEA do not live in an ivory tower. They knew what was going on, and that rate capping in the coming financial year would be more stringent and effective than in the previous year, yet they made no attempt to provide for that. In fact, spending has continued to rise, consuming nearly all the available reserves.

Spending has gone beyond budgeted expenditure. In the summer of 1985, for example, an extra £300,000 was provided for more publicity. A week or so ago, an extra £100,000 was provided for additional press officers. That is an extremely strange sense of priorities. Here is an education authority telling us, with reason in my view, that the basic fabric of inner London's education is being impaired by the order, yet it is providing extra money to pay for publicity and press officers. That is not a powerful case to put to inner London electors.

ILEA has a great deal of which to be proud, but there are areas of concern about its spending priorities and spending record. For example, since 1978–79, the cost of administration has increased by 16·5 per cent. in real terms at a time when the school rolls were going down by 12 per cent. That needs exploration. The cost of community education is up in real terms by 16 per cent. over that period when the number of student hours has fallen by 15 per cent.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn , Islington North

The hon. Gentleman is making a strong attack on the existence of ILEA and its methods of spending money. Does he agree that it would be useful if every education authority was afforded the opportunity to use falling school rolls to improve the pupil-teacher ratio and provide the many education facilities that are wanted in schools but have been denied in the past?

Photo of Mr John Cartwright Mr John Cartwright , Woolwich

The hon. Gentleman could not have been listening carefully. I said that administration costs, not teaching costs, were up 16·5 per cent. while school rolls had gone down by 12 per cent. There may be a case for improving the teacher-pupil ratio at a time of falling school rolls, but I do not accept that the case for improving and extending administration is anything like so powerful.

Another example is expenditure on education welfare services, which is up 5 per cent. in real terms while school rolls have fallen by 12 per cent., and there is no improvement in attendance figures.

Photo of Mr Andrew Bennett Mr Andrew Bennett , Denton and Reddish

Does the hon. Gentleman accept that a great deal of school welfare concerns the welfare of the individual child, not just attendance? Does he accept that unemployment and other problems in London have increased substantially in recent years, adding very much to the burden of education welfare officers?

Photo of Mr John Cartwright Mr John Cartwright , Woolwich

I do not dispute for a moment that a case can be made out for those things. I am simply saying that, on the basis of the figures, those issues should be explored. Here is an authority saying that it is not possible to make any economies, except in the basic fabric of education. I am giving instances of areas that could be examined.

Inner Londoners are willing to invest in inner London education, but in some cases they are concerned about the way in which money is being spent. That concern was confirmed in a couple of MORI opinion polls carried out by the Inner London education authority and paid for at the expense of inner London ratepayers. We have seen an extremely expensive campaign publicising some of the polls' findings, but only some of them. Some have been suppressed and some show concerns of inner London electors about the way in which some aspects of ILEA policy is pursued.

The response of the ILEA leadership to the problem of rate capping is typical of Labour local authorities faced with rate capping elsewhere. They have taken a difficult problem and have been determined to make it as bad as possible. They have been intent on creating confrontation with the Government. They have pursued a policy denounced by the leader of the Labour party as playing politics with people's jobs and services. We reject that approach as vehemently as we reject the order.

Photo of Frank Dobson Frank Dobson Shadow Minister (Health) 11:15 pm, 10th February 1986

I speak as a parent. All three of my children go to Inner London education authority schools. I am the last person to be uncritical of some aspects of ILEA's performance and the performance of its schools, and I can criticise, because I experience what those schools are trying to do. However, I recognise the circumstances in which they are trying to do their job.

I represent many people who send their children to ILEA schools. Most of them are satisfied with what the authority is doing and trying to do. In our traditional British way, we shall put that to the test in May. am certain that the new directly elected Inner London education authority will have an overwhelming majority of Labour Members when that election takes place.

It is preposterous that a Government who introduce a directly elected authority, having tried 15 other types of attack on ILEA in preceding years, should suddenly decide that that elected authority has no mandate to spend the money that the people who put themselves to the bother of being elected believe needs to be spent on education in inner London.

Where do the Government get any mandate to carry out what they propose to do to inner London's education? There has been no mention in any Tory election manifesto that they have ever put to the people of inner London of establishing that type of authority. There was no reference in any Tory manifesto put to anyone in the country that the Secretary of State would have powers to decide how much money could be spent on education in inner London.

Even in the 1983 genera) election—a disaster for the Labour party—we still returned a majority of Labour Members for inner London — and, by God, it shows. Only one Tory inner London Member is present in the Chamber. At least, he had the decency to speak. If the Inner London education authority proposes school closures, the rest, in their hypocritical way, will shuffle in with the delegations, saying, "Do not damage the education of my constituents." But they will have busily voted for the limitation order tonight.

In inner London, Labour have the majority of GLCILEA seats on the GLC, so there is no mandate for the Government there. Even in our bad times, Labour has controlled the inner London boroughs. The Government have no mandate to limit the spending of ILEA. The authority is not even spending any of the Government's money. Under this skinflint, abominable Government, the authority, which has the most difficulties in this country, receives no grant.

The Secretary of State, who is a freeman of the City of London, may ask about the poor business ratepayers who have been beaten to their knees by awful Labour authorities, but even the London chamber of commerce—the people who pay the rates; that is about the only tax they do pay, which is why they are so opposed to the rates—say that the precipitate reduction is too great and ought not to take place.

The Tories in my constituency have chosen their candidates for the new authority. One is a woman called Olga Maitland, who, I believe, writes for a newspaper. She sends all three of her children to private schools, but is seeking to have the right to determine what happens to the schools of all the other people in my constituency. She will not touch those schools with a barge pole; that is typical of the hypocrisy of many Tory Members.

Photo of John Maples John Maples , Lewisham West

Surely one of the responsibilities of the elected members of the new education authority will be to look after the interests of the ratepayers.

Photo of Frank Dobson Frank Dobson Shadow Minister (Health)

If the hon. Gentleman looks at the Act under which ILEA was established he will not discern any statutory responsibility for ratepayers being imposed on members of the authority. The ILEA members should look after the education of children, young people and adults in inner London; that is their duty. The ratepayers will be able to vote them in or vote them out in the usual way. It is unreasonable for the Secretary of State to set spending limits for ILEA. The authority, for good or ill, whether its decisions are right or wrong or properly judged or not, and whether every penny of the money is needed or not, should be taking the decisions and carrying the can with the electorate.

We do not believe that the Secretary of State is fit to decide such matters. I do not believe that the right hon. Gentleman is personally fit to make those decisions. Like most people interested in education, in inner London, I was exhilerated to see on a recent billboard of The London Standard "Joseph to Quit". It seems that even the right hon. Gentleman has decided that he will not be up to representing the electors of Leeds at the next election. The people of inner London think that he is unfit to unrepresent and damage the education of their children now, and that he ought to go. It will be a disgrace if anyone who purports to represent the people, parents or children of inner London votes for the order. It will undoubtedly damage the interests of those children. The Secretary of State said—

Photo of Frank Dobson Frank Dobson Shadow Minister (Health)

The hon. Member for Lancaster (Mrs. Kellett-Bowman) says that my speech is too long. With due deference to my hon. Friends, I shall take as long as I need to talk about the interests of the people I represent.

The Secretary of State said that ILEA charges 35p per school meal. As a result of that, the proportion of schoolchildren in inner London eating school meals in this time of great impoverishment and great unemployment has increased. And so it should. That is good and worthwhile spending. There is no more direct way of getting nourishment into a child than by giving it a meal. That is a better way of spending money than anything that Tory Members can think of.

We have heard suggestions that ILEA is profligate. The hon. Member for Lewisham, West had the decency to accept that the Metropolitan police were possibly more exorbitant in their expenditure per unit than the ILEA. It is no good him shaking his head now. I understand that the Secretary of State for the Home Department is likely to agree to increase the expenditure of the Metropolitan police because of inner-city difficulties.

The Secretary of State has taken unto himself direct powers over inner London. When London Members ask to see the Home Secretary about London matters, he agrees to see us. We want to ensure that when representatives and parents from inner London ask to see this Secretary of State about inner London matters, in which he will now directly interfere, we are not told to raise them in a debate. If he takes the powers, he must take the responsibility. We believe that he should leave the responsibiltiy where it properly rests — with those elected to provide an education service in inner London. They should be given the resources to do that. If what they do is not right, they will face the direct consequence by being thrown out of office by those who can choose to elect or not elect them. That is the way that it should be, and that is how it will be under the next Labour Government.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn , Islington North 11:27 pm, 10th February 1986

I agree with everything said by my hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson). It is quite wrong that we should debate the expenditure of almost £1,000 million of public money in a one-and-a-half-hour debate late at night. It is the product of the centralisation of all decision-making around one or two Ministers. It is unsatisfactory that we should be expected to take decisions on matters affecting the children of inner London when few inner London Members are present—only one on the Government Benches—and when the Secretary of State is barely listening to the debate. I wonder whether he really understands the damage that he is about to do to the children of inner London.

For seven years before I became a Member of this House, I was a full-time trade union official for the National Union of Public Employees within ILEA. For the past two years I was secretary of the manual workers' negotiation committee for all manual workers employed by the ILEA. It would be wrong not to say that, on occasions, there were severe differences between us and ILEA on some of its employment policies, or that we did not make strong demands. However, both we and ILEA were acutely conscious that education is about service to the community and about all those who work in a school, be they cleaners, school meals assistants, teachers, secretaries or whatever.

I represent an ILEA constituency, and many of my constituents and others will suffer badly if the order is passed. It began from a long process of discussion within ILEA not about how to improve educational standards, which apparantly the Secretary of State wants, but from a process of fear about what might be cut in schools or what schools might be closed. Rather than trying to face the problems of the children in inner London, teachers, administrators and others involved in education have instead had to suffer endless letters from the Secretary of State about how to make reductions in their educational expenditure.

Only a few days ago, with much publicity, the Government announced their inner-city initiative — a paltry few million pounds to be spread over a large area. Indeed, the amount being offered to various parts of the country is less than required to build 50 houses. Yet tonight, with no publicity, the Government propose to make enormous cuts in the education budget of inner London.

I have to ask the House to consider areas such as my hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras represents, the levels of unemployment there and the fate of many school leavers. In 1980, one year after the Government came to office, there were eight youngsters for each job available for school leavers. Three years later there were 20. That is the measure of how bad unemployment has got in inner-city areas.

ILEA cannot be expected to control the economy of inner London or to solve all of the problems that are heaped on it by the Government's economic policies, but it has at least tried to equip those youngsters for the type of life that they will lead when they leave school. It has tried to develop community education. It has developed a first-class further and higher education service and it tops the league table in any sense in the provision of further education for those who missed out on any opportunity when they left school. ILEA's principle has been to provide higher and further education for those who wish to follow it, irrespective of their ability to pay and irrespective of their academic achievements on leaving school.

Photo of John Maples John Maples , Lewisham West

And irrespective of the cost.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn , Islington North

The hon. Member might shout nonsense, but, like my hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, I am sure that he would be the first to lead a deputation if he heard that the City Lit was closing down.

Photo of John Maples John Maples , Lewisham West

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way. I did not say nonsense, but "Irrespective of the cost". That is one of the things that the hon. Gentleman was not thinking about.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn , Islington North

I am thinking very much about the cost of those institutions. I am aware that they are expensive and that they are non-statutory, but I am also aware that they are extremely valuable. It is not possible to run an education system based on an accountant's calculator. It must be based on the effectiveness of equipping children for later life and of further and higher education services.

The cost that the Secretary of State believes is the correct figure for London's education next year takes no account of many factors, and he knows it. It takes no account, for example, of inflation, which he presumably thinks does not happen. It also takes no serious account of the cost of abolition of the greater London council and the cost therefore forced on ILEA. It also has many hidden features, such as the right hon. Gentleman's obsession with ILEA leaving county hall. Has the right hon. Gentleman examined any of these matters? Has he examined the real costs, and the effects on every school and every child throughout London of the proposed precept?

The Secretary of State said that he would give some answers later. Here is a question for him, to which I should like a clear answer. He said that ILEA has not raised the price of school meals from 35p, a price that was set some years ago. I wish that it had been set at 25p before the last election. Nevertheless, I am glad that the price has not increased from 35p, as it means that many children are able to get a decent meal, which they would otherwise not get. Half of the children in inner London are eligible for free school meals, which demonstrates, and is an indictment of, the level of poverty.

My question is simple. If the price of school meals is raised to the level found in some outer-London boroughs—60p and 70p—how many children will go without a school meal because their parents cannot afford it? Bearing in mind the system by which school meals workers are employed—it is based on the number of meals served and an allocation of hours to each kitchen—how many school meals workers would lose their jobs? What would be the cost to the public purse through unemployment benefit, social security payments and the misery associated with making those meals workers unemployed? Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that many of them are part-time women workers for whom no other job is available?

In short, the right hon. Gentleman is telling the people of inner London and ILEA that they should starve the children, sack the cooks and sack the school meals assistants because of his obsession with the pricing mechanism of the school meals service. Or, does he want ILEA to privatise its school meals service and throw more people out of work, so that even fewer children get a free school meal? That seems to be the direction in which he is moving. Will he consider the effects of his suggestions?

Photo of Mr Donald Thompson Mr Donald Thompson , Calder Valley

It is like all our yesterdays.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn , Islington North

I look back on the period before 1979, not as the greatest achievement that I would have wished for, but when children were at least sure of getting a school meal, teachers were sure of their jobs, and a great threat did not hang over our education service.

The Government and Tory Members do not care about inner London or the future of ILEA. But they have been forced by public action and pressure to have an elected education authority, which they did not want, just as earlier public action and pressure prevented them from abolishing ILEA altogether and handing it over to individual borough councils. In May they will face an election, which they will certainly lose, and the education authority will be Labour controlled and, will certainly, be ratecapped until the Government are finally driven from office.

The Government must face the fact that they have no supporters for their proposals for inner London, and that ILEA, for all its difficulties and size, is a popular institution. Many people find it essentially sympathetic to the children and problems of inner London. But the Government, instead of recognising the special difficulties of inner London, such as its poor housing, high level of unemployment, and the fact that one in six children at ILEA schools speak English as a second language, not the first, are not prepared to recognise the effects of their policies on inner London. By the systematic removal of Government expenditure on inner London, the Government have ended treating the poorest part with the greatest problems, with the greatest disrespect and giving it no financial help in most years. That is an indictment of their treatment of inner London.

Tonight we shall vote against the precept. I hope that the debate will be heard elsewhere, and that in the Fulham by-election people will understand what the Government's attitude to education means. They do not care. ILEA has attempted to provide the best for the poorest children. That is one reason why the Tories will lose the by-election, the council elections and, above all, in London the general election, when it comes.

Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 11:37 pm, 10th February 1986

I wish to add some brief, specific points to those raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich (Mr. Cartwright).

The Secretary of State did not deal with interventions during his speech, and I wish to point to the fundamental inconsistency in his argument. He argued that there is scope for enormous cuts, and that it is appropriate to cut the ILEA budget by 6 per cent. However, his Cabinet colleagues are falling over themselves pretending that they need to spend more on inner cities and to give urban grants. Only last week the Paymaster General was providing more sweeteners for inner cities and pretending to provide more money, albeit only little more, because he recognises the needs. It is impossible for the Government to argue that the ILEA has no more needs, to accept that the inner cities, especially inner London, have enormous needs, and to dispute the views of inspectors that ILEA does a good job and of their colleagues, not least the leader of the Conservative group on ILEA, that the Government are misguided in their approach to inner London education. Inner London is clearly a deprived area in social terms. There are problems that stem from lack of opportunity, employment and educational attainment. There are fundamental social problems accompanied by drugs and other evils. Only investment in the education service can substantially alter that deprivation for life.

I shall show by example how misguided it is to cut inner London expenditure. First, I ask the House to consider the non-statutory sector in the youth service. I declare an interest, because before I was elected to this place I was a member of the Southwark area youth committee, and I remain a member. If we are to try to deal with the inadequate employment opportunities of young people and the time that they can put to misuse which they can put to good use with guidance, we must develop, not restrict, the youth service. If we are to give young women the opportunities that young men have often enjoyed and create opportunities for career guidance and training for the development of social relations, we must spend money on the youth service, not contract it. If it is said that all that can be afforded is statutory provision, there will be no money available for expanding the youth service in inner London, with the result that increasing numbers of inner London's young people will have little to do and little prospect of employment when they leave school.

Secondly, I shall give an even more harrowing and, I hope, pointed example to the Secretary of State. The special schools in London are still grossly underfunded. Recently I visited one of the special schools in Southwark—Cherry Garden school. It does not have sufficient supply and permanent teachers. It does not have the ability to take its severely handicapped pupils from the ground floor to the first floor because it does not have the money to install a lift. The staff are trying desperately to allow those with handicaps and disabilities to develop their potential so that they can lead a full life. The best chance that the staff have of doing that is with children between the ages of two, when they start at the school, and 18. If they are held back, if the opportunities to correct the imbalance that heredity, illness, nature or circumstances have brought about are not taken by investment through public funding, we are doubly handicapping those who most need the benefits of our investment.

The reality is that education in inner London is still not meeting many of the needs that Britain requires it to meet. I accept that there can be savings, but there is no scope for massively cutting investment. The needs are enormous. I hope that the Secretary of State will realise that a time of enormous cuts generally, the additional burden of cutting back severely on the ILEA budget will lead to a recipe for inner London that offers a far less satisfactory future for our young people than we ask for them, that they deserve and that otherwise they would be able to obtain.

Photo of Mr Alfred Dubs Mr Alfred Dubs , Battersea 11:44 pm, 10th February 1986

Like my hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson), I declare an interest. Both my children went to ILEA schools, my wife is currently an ILEA teacher, and I am the governor of a school in my constituency. Over the past 15 or so years I have been a governor of about five other ILEA schools. I can claim some first-hand knowledge and some direct experience of the issues that we are discussing.

I am horrified by the way in which the Government think that, on a purely arbitrary basis, they have the right to determine the nature of education and spending on education in inner London. They have made out no case for their approach, which is based upon no direct knowledge of what is going on in the schools. They merely take the view that they must punish the ILEA. The reluctance of the Government to have any faith in the people of London and their elected representatives is astonishing. Why cannot the Government say, "Let the people of London decide; let us leave it to Londoners to decide how much they are willing to spend on the education of London's children"?

The truth is that since the Government's election they have decided that the ILEA is to be got at. The Government have decided to attack and undermine by various means education in inner London. This is only the first of many chapters in the saga. Having listened to the Secretary of State and his predecessors, and to the Tory party as a whole, I have come to the conclusion that they have no interest in the education or the children of inner London.

The Secretary of State compared London with Birmingham and other inner cities. ILEA is unique because it represents only an inner city area and because it has no leafy suburbs or middle class areas, with the exception of Chelsea, south Westminster and parts of Kensington. Therefore, London has a larger proportion of children from disadvantaged homes than any other education authority. For that reason if for no other, London should be treated as an authority that needs more help and support than any other education authority. The one thing that Britain has going for it other than coal and diminishing oil is the skill, education and training of its people. That is the only thing that will, in the next century, separate Britain from underdeveloped countries. If we do not continually invest in those assets, we shall be throwing away our future, and we shall be as nothing. That is why I look with horror on any Government who say that education can be cut because it does not matter. We reject that view utterly and entirely.

Photo of Sir Keith Joseph Sir Keith Joseph , Leeds North East 11:46 pm, 10th February 1986

With the leave of the House, Mr. Deputy Speaker, in the time available, I must do my best to answer all the questions that have been put, but I must correct one impression at once. The picture has been given that in the ILEA area unemployment has been higher and earnings lower than in any other inner city area. That is untrue. I hope that the House will remember that employment and average earnings in London are higher than they are in any other inner city area. That is so on an inner city to inner city basis.

Photo of Sir Keith Joseph Sir Keith Joseph , Leeds North East

I cannot give way, as I have a large number of questions to answer.

I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Maples) and the hon. Member for Woolwich (Mr. Cartwright), who drew attention to the degree to which ILEA last year spoilt its case by prophesying gloom and doom, and crying wolf. It must expect some scepticism about its forecast this year in the light of what transpired last year. My hon. Friend and the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) asked why ILEA does not receive grant. I remind them of the unique rateable value of ILEA. That is why it does not get grants.

The hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn) made a significant speech about school meals. It is possible for ILEA to raise school meal charges to a level somewhat nearer the national average—from 35p, the level at which it has been since 1980, to the national average of 60p. One of the economies canvassed by ILEA officials was an increase to 50p. Whereas there might be job losses in connection with a rise in school meal charges, it does not follow that an increase in school meal charges leads necessarily to a decline in the take-up of school meals. Many other authorities have so designed their school meals service as to increase the take-up of school meals even though the prices have risen.

Photo of Sir Keith Joseph Sir Keith Joseph , Leeds North East

I am not giving way, as I have to cover many points in a limited time.

Moreover, although the hon. Member for Islington, North lays much emphasis upon the loss of jobs in the schools meals service—a loss of jobs which I do not accept as being necessary—ILEA's ILEA's policy, involving increased rates for ratepayers, including businesses, involves an equal number of job losses, which the Opposition completely fail to take into account.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn , Islington North

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Photo of Sir Keith Joseph Sir Keith Joseph , Leeds North East


It is well known that job losses result from increased rates. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, it is not."] Many businesses have been driven out of high rate authority areas, with the consequent loss of a great number of jobs.

The hon. Member for Durham, North (Mr. Radice) asked me a number of questions that I shall seek to answer. He referred to the HMI comment in its annual report that ILEA provides adequate cover against a number of criteria. Nobody doubts that. The HMI report does not say, however, that ILEA provides that adequate cover at an economic cost. Nor must the hon. Gentleman or the House confuse the provision of service with the quality or standards of that service. Above a certain minimum sufficiency for education it is not possible to measure the standard, quality or effectiveness of education by the mere counting of spending. Spending is extremely important, but it is not the same as quality or effectiveness. The point about ILEA is that, despite record spending, it does not succeed in raising the standard, effectiveness or quality of the education of its pupils above that of much lower spending authorities that face equal problems. The Government readily accept the difficulties that ILEA, to an even greater extent than other inner city authorities, faces in education, but the difference between spending and effectiveness has to be borne in mind.

The hon. Member for Durham, North asked the Government to remember that ILEA has proposed savings of £18 million. Yes, it has, but what does it intend to do with those savings? It does not intend to return them to t he ratepayer. It intends to redeploy them upon other facets of education.

Much emphasis was laid upon the damage that ILEA's education officials assert will be caused if the draft order is approved, because only one in three vacancies in ILEA will be filled during the year in question. That damage will occur only if there is no vigorous management to carry out a redeployment of staff. As I said in my opening speech, ILEA retains 450 teachers who are supernumerary to its establishment. It could therefore replace one in three vacancies without any damage being done to the quality of education if it carried out at the same time a vigorous redeployment policy. Vigorous management will be necessary.

I was asked to give examples of other education authorities that have carried out cuts of 6 per cent. in one year. Manchester has carried out a cut of 9 per cent. I have a list of authorities that have made cuts in real terms of 5 per cent. or more. They have made those cuts from a spending base that is far lower than ILEA's. [HON. MEMBERS: "Name them."] Barnet has done so twice; Harrow; Kingston upon Thames; Merton twice; Richmond upon Thames; Sefton; Manchester; Trafford twice; Doncaster; Gateshead; Newcastle upon Tyne; South Tyneside; East Sussex; Gloucestershire; Kent and Somerset.

Special schools in ILEA are not underfunded. They spend well above the national average with due attention to the handicap of each child.

The hon. Member for Durham, North asked whether the Government are seeking to impose an illegal budget on ILEA. Certainly not. I was asked by the hon. Gentleman whether the Government are seeking to require ILEA to ignore its statutory duties. Certainly not. ILEA has statutory duties and it would be open to a default inquiry if it failed to carry out its statutory duties. I am sure that the officers of ILEA, to whom praise has rightly been given by the hon. Gentlman, are able to carry through the necessary savings once the House approves an order on the lines of the draft order being put to the House this evening. I regard them as certainly able to carry out the savings required without damage to the education of the children of ILEA.

No Government have ever shown more concern for the quality, standards and effectiveness of education in Britain than this Government.

Photo of Sir Keith Joseph Sir Keith Joseph , Leeds North East


ILEA cannot expect that the public should measure its standards, quality and effectiveness merely by its spending. It can maintain, and I hope improve, the quality of the education of the children of inner London by more vigorous management even at lower cost. I ask the House to approve the order.

Photo of Mr Giles Radice Mr Giles Radice Shadow Secretary of State for Education

Why did not the Secretary of State agree to a compromise with ILEA this afternoon, as he was perfectly able to do? If he had agreed to a compromise, ILEA would be accepting savings and there would have been a better precept. That would have been the sensible course for the Secretary of State to take. He has not taken it, and is is stupid not to have done so.

Photo of Sir Keith Joseph Sir Keith Joseph , Leeds North East

Because I believe that ILEA can maintain and even improve the standards of education to its children at a lower cost to the ratepayers. Indeed, if the hon. Gentleman challenges me, I say that I have raised the expenditure level and the maximum precept by a significant amount.

Question put:

The House divided: Ayes 209, Noes 160.

Division No. 66][11.57 pm
Ancram, MichaelGlyn, Dr Alan
Beaumont-Dark, AnthonyGoodlad, Alastair
Biggs-Davison, Sir JohnGow, Ian
Boscawen, Hon RobertGrant, Sir Anthony
Bottomley, Mrs VirginiaGregory, Conal
Buck, Sir AntonyGriffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)
Burt, AlistairGround, Patrick
Butterfill, JohnGrylls, Michael
Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (W'ton S)Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)
Cash, WilliamHamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)Hampson, Dr Keith
Cope, JohnHannam, John
Corrie, JohnHargreaves, Kenneth
Currie, Mrs EdwinaHarris, David
Dorrell, StephenHarvey, Robert
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.Haselhurst, Alan
Durant, TonyHawkins, Sir Paul (N'folk SW)
Emery, Sir PeterHawksley, Warren
Fairbairn, NicholasHayes, J.
Favell, AnthonyHeathcoat-Amory, David
Fenner, Mrs PeggyHenderson, Barry
Forman, NigelHeseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)Hickmet, Richard
Forth, EricHiggins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Franks, CecilHind, Kenneth
Fraser, Peter (Angus East)Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Freeman, RogerHolt, Richard
Fry, PeterHordern, Sir Peter
Gale, RogerHoward, Michael
Galley, RoyHowarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)
Gardiner, George (Reigate)Howarth, Gerald (Cannock)
Gardner, Sir Edward (Fylde)Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N)
Garel-Jones, TristanHubbard-Miles, Peter
Hunt, David (Wirral W)Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Hurd, Rt Hon DouglasRobinson, P. (Belfast E)
Johnson Smith, Sir GeoffreyRoe, Mrs Marion
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)Rossi, Sir Hugh
Jones, Robert (Herts W)Rowe, Andrew
Joseph, Rt Hon Sir KeithRumbold, Mrs Angela
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs ElaineRyder, Richard
Kershaw, Sir AnthonySackville, Hon Thomas
King, Roger (B'ham N'field)Sainsbury, Hon Timothy
Knight, Greg (Derby N)Sayeed, Jonathan
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Knowles, MichaelShaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Knox, DavidShelton, William (Streatham)
Lamont, NormanShepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Lang, IanSilvester, Fred
Lawler, GeoffreySims, Roger
Lawrence, IvanSmith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)Soames, Hon Nicholas
Lennox-Boyd, Hon MarkSpeed, Keith
Lightbown, DavidSpencer, Derek
Lilley, PeterSpicer, Jim Dorset W)
Lloyd, Ian (Havant)Squire, Robin
Luce, Rt Hon RichardStanbrook, Ivor
Lyell, NicholasStanley, Rt Hon John
McCurley, Mrs AnnaSteen, Anthony
MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire)Stern, Michael
MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)
Maclean, David JohnStewart, Allan (Eastwood)
McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st)Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
Madel, DavidStewart, Ian (Hertf'dshire N)
Major, JohnStokes, John
Malins, HumfreyStradling Thomas, Sir John
Malone, GeraldSumberg, David
Maples, JohnTaylor, John (Solihull)
Marlow, AntonyTaylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Mates, MichaelTemple-Morris, Peter
Mather, CarolTerlezki, Stefan
Maxwell-Hyslop, RobinThomas, Rt Hon Peter
Mayhew, Sir PatrickThompson, Donald (Calder V)
Merchant, PiersThompson, Patrick (N'ich N)
Miller, Hal (B'grove)Thorne, Neil (Ilford S)
Mills, Iain (Meriden)Thornton, Malcolm
Miscampbell, NormanTownend, John (Bridlington)
Mitchell, David (Hants NW)Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Moate, RogerTrippier, David
Montgomery, Sir FergusTwinn, Dr Ian
Moore, Rt Hon Johnvan Straubenzee, Sir W.
Mudd, DavidVaughan, Sir Gerard
Murphy, ChristopherWaddington, David
Neale, GerrardWakeham, Rt Hon John
Nelson, AnthonyWaldegrave, Hon William
Neubert, MichaelWalden, George
Nicholls, PatrickWalker, Bill (T'side N)
Norris, StevenWaller, Gary
Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S.Ward, John
Osborn, Sir JohnWardle, C. (Bexhill)
Ottaway, RichardWatson, John
Page, Sir John (Harrow W)Wells, Bowen (Hertford)
Parris, MatthewWhitfield, John
Patten, Christopher (Bath)Whitney, Raymond
Pawsey, JamesWiggin, Jerry
Percival, Rt Hon Sir IanWilkinson, John
Pollock, AlexanderWinterton, Mrs Ann
Porter, BarryWinterton, Nicholas
Portillo, MichaelWolfson, Mark
Powell, William (Corby)Wood, Timothy
Raffan, KeithWoodcock, Michael
Raison, Rt Hon TimothyYeo, Tim
Rathbone, TimYoung, Sir George (Acton)
Renton, Tim
Rhodes James, RobertTellers for the Ayes
Rhys Williams, Sir BrandonMr. Peter Lloyd and
Ridley, Rt Hon NicholasMr. Francis Maude.
Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Adams, Allen (Paisley N)Banks, Tony (Newham NW)
Ashley, Rt Hon JackBarron, Kevin
Atkinson, N. (Tottenham)Beckett, Mrs Margaret
Bagier, Gordon A. T.Bell, Stuart
Benn, Rt Hon TonyEwing, Harry
Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh)Fatchett, Derek
Bermingham, GeraldFaulds, Andrew
Bidwell, SydneyFields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn)
Blair, AnthonyFisher, Mark
Boothroyd, Miss BettyFlannery, Martin
Boyes, RolandForrester, John
Bray, Dr JeremyFoster, Derek
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)Foulkes, George
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E)Fraser, J. (Norwood)
Brown, R. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne N)Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith)Garrett, W. E.
Caborn, RichardGilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M)Golding, John
Campbell-Savours, DaleHamilton, James (M'well N)
Carter-Jones, LewisHamilton, W. W. (Fife Central)
Cartwright, JohnHardy, Peter
Clark, Dr David (S Shields)Harrison, Rt Hon Walter
Clarke, ThomasHealey, Rt Hon Denis
Clelland, David GordonHeffer, Eric S.
Clwyd, Mrs AnnHogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S)Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall)
Cohen, HarryHome Robertson, John
Coleman, DonaldHowells, Geraint
Conlan, BernardHoyle, Douglas
Cook, Frank (Stockton North)Hughes, Dr Mark (Durham)
Corbett, RobinHughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Corbyn, JeremyHughes, Roy (Newport East)
Craigen, J. M.Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)
Crowther, StanHughes, Simon (Southwark)
Cunliffe, LawrenceJohn Brynmor
Cunningham, Dr JohnJones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly)Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Deakins, EricKilroy-Silk, Robert
Dewar, DonaldKinnock, Rt Hon Neil
Dobson, FrankLamond, James
Dormand, JackLeadbitter, Ted
Douglas, DickLewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Dubs, AlfredLewis, Terence (Worsley)
Duffy, A. E. P.Litherland, Robert
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.Livsey, Richard
Eadie, AlexLloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Evans, John (St. Helens N)Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Loyden, EdwardRobertson, George
McCartney, HughRobinson, G. (Coventry NW)
McDonald, Dr OonaghRogers, Allan
McKay, Allen (Penistone)Rooker, J. W.
McKelvey, WilliamRowlands, Ted
McNamara, KevinSedgemore, Brian
McTaggart, RobertSheerman, Barry
McWilliam, JohnSheldon, Rt Hon R.
Madden, MaxShore, Rt Hon Peter
Marek, Dr JohnShort, Ms Clare (Ladywood)
Maxton, JohnShort, Mrs R.(W'hampt'n NE)
Maynard, Miss JoanSilkin, Rt Hon J.
Meacher, MichaelSkinner, Dennis
Michie, WilliamSmith, C.(Isl'ton S & F'bury)
Millan, Rt Hon BruceSmith, Rt Hon J. (M'ds E)
Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)Snape, Peter
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)Soley, Clive
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)Spearing, Nigel
Nellist, DavidStott, Roger
Oakes, Rt Hon GordonStrang, Gavin
O'Brien, WilliamThompson, J. (Wansbeck)
O'Neill, MartinThorne, Stan (Preston)
Park, GeorgeTinn, James
Parry, RobertTorney, Tom
Pavitt, LaurieWallace, James
Pendry, TomWardell, Gareth (Gower)
Pike, PeterWeetch, Ken
Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)Welsh, Michael
Prescott, JohnWilliams, Rt Hon A.
Radice, GilesWinnick, David
Randall, StuartYoung, David (Bolton SE)
Redmond, Martin
Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)Tellers for the Noes:
Richardson, Ms JoMr. Frank Haynes and
Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)Mr. Don Dixon

Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved,That the draft Precept Limitation (Prescribed Maximum) (Inner London Education Authority) Order 1986, which was laid before this House on 29th January, be approved.