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Orders of the Day — Local Government Finance

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:40 pm on 1st February 1995.

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Photo of John Gummer John Gummer Secretary of State for Environment 4:40 pm, 1st February 1995

I agree that education is at the heart of the nation's needs. That is why we have increased spending per pupil by nearly 50 per cent. in real terms since 1979. The difficulty, however, is that if the total spending is part of the total assessment of Government spending, when one local authority spends significantly in excess of what is available to other local authorities, it has a direct effect on us all because of its playback into the nation's economy.

Other honourable Members have to take into account the fact that Warwickshire is spending 4 per cent. above its SSA on education. It will have an increase of 1.2 per cent., which is above the average for all counties. I was concerned about Warwickshire's claim, which is based not on the particularity of Warwickshire but on the belief that the way in which the system works does not give adequate representation to factors that might colour our assessment. Because of that, I shall look closely with the local authority associations at Warwickshire's concerns next year. I have listened carefully to my hon. Friend the Member for Stratford-on-Avon and they lead me back to the comments made by my hon. Friend the Member for Meriden (Mr. Mills). One or two other authorities have believed consistently that the mechanisms seem to have failed their particular problems, and I shall reconsider their cases carefully.