As a matter of course, the Government evaluate the effectiveness of the policies they introduce. The performance of the inner London councils as LEAs will be monitored through the collection of data on educational and financial performance, and through inspection by HMI.
Is the Minister aware that many people in inner London are concerned about what will happen when education is transferred to the boroughs? Is she further aware that the long-term predictions by her Department show that education spending in inner London will fall by 30 per cent. in real terms in the first five years of transfer to the boroughs? Will she reconsider those figures and enable proper expenditure on education to take place in inner London to take account of the problems of deprivation, the higher costs of providing education in the area and, for example, the fact that 50 per cent. of the children in my borough fall within the special needs category? Those needs must be met by central Government. They cannot be met out of local resources.
The hon. Gentleman should remember that ILEA has overspent, and spent inefficiently, on London's education for years. The authority's abolition provides a new framework within which the boroughs can move to provide more efficient services. That certainly can be done and many outer London boroughs already manage it. The inner London boroughs will have the support of the safety net arrangements for four years from April 1990 and, following that, the new needs assessment will take into account the factors that the hon. Gentleman raised.
Is my hon. Friend aware that the commissars of the people's republic of Islington have said that when they are responsible for education in the area, it will be based on numeracy and literacy? Does she agree that if ILEA had adopted a similar approach, the case for abolition would have been much less strong? Will she also agree that the record of the London borough of Barnet—where a pupil is three times as likely to leave with two A-levels as in the ILEA—shows that the London boroughs are more than capable of looking after the children's education?
Does the Minister recall the words used by the Secretary of State when he praised the London boroughs for their efforts to deal with the administrative chaos that was likely to arise as a result of his proposals to abolish ILEA? Those words of praise having been given, will the Minister now guarantee that the London boroughs will be given the necessary resources to provide good-quality education? Or do the words she used in her main answer mean that she is determined to carry out a financial vendetta against the children of inner London and starve them and the boroughs of the resources that they desperately need to have good education and good opportunities?
There is absolutely no question of a vendetta against the children in the new inner London education authorities. From the draft development plans that are coming to the Department now and the discussions that are being held with the inner London boroughs, it is clear that the interests of the children are being taken care of. There will be safety netting with the introduction of education as one of the responsibilities of those boroughs and as that is phased out, a key determinant in the boroughs' financial position will be the new needs assessment.