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Orders of the Day — Local Government Finance

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:50 pm on 1st February 1995.

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Photo of Frank Dobson Frank Dobson Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Shadow Minister (Culture, Media and Sport) 5:50 pm, 1st February 1995

No.

Apparently, some Tories claim that the size of school classes does not matter—which is strange as nearly all of them send their children out of the regular school system to be educated. They send their children to the fee-paying schools which have smaller class sizes. [Interruption.] I do not know why Government Members are getting excited because I do not know anyone on the Opposition Benches who sends his or her children to a fee-paying school.

Let us assume, therefore, that the children of Tories benefit from smaller class sizes. Most people think that it would be a good idea if all of our children could enjoy the educational benefits of smaller class sizes. According to the Government's own figures, in the past 10 years there has been a 9 per cent. increase in class sizes in primary schools and secondary school class sizes are rising as well. There are reports of that occurring all over the country. I ask the Secretary of State: will there be further increases in school class sizes? Does he know? Does he care? I can assure him that parents care, but they are faced with paying more and getting less.

Youth clubs are another part of the education service which is increasingly neglected. Those clubs do not constitute a statutory provision and they are closing all over the country. Government Members then ask why there is an increase in juvenile crime. In London, and in many other parts of the country, the youth clubs which used to keep children occupied have been closed. I thought that the right hon. Gentleman, with his religious leanings, would recall the old saying, "The devil makes work for idle hands." The closure of youth clubs has certainly led to other problems.