The capping limits allow all local education authorities to increase their budgets. They have discretion over funding for their schools within the level of their cap.
Will the Secretary of State tell the House what recommendations she will make to her right hon. and hon. Friends in the Department of the Environment regarding Devon's cap, following the meeting between the Under-Secretary of State for Schools, myself and a delegation from Devon county council? Will she tell the House whether she agrees with Tory Members in the south-west, such as the hon. Members for Taunton (Mr. Nicholson) and for Exeter (Sir J. Hannam)—and even the hon. Member for Castle Point (Dr. Spink)—who believe that caps should be raised, or whether she agrees with those Conservative Members in Devon who are fully committed to lowering standards in local schools by keeping the caps in place?
I am well aware that Conservative county councillors in Devon gave an additional £4.4 million to the education service in their draft budget, within the cap. We are at present considering the appeals submitted by capped authorities and we shall take decisions in the light of available information.
Does my right hon. Friend realise that the Labour and Liberal Democrat-controlled county council in Devon three times turned down the Conservative budget which provided the money that the hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Mr. Jamieson) accused us of not giving? Does my right hon. Friend also realise that the local education authority takes 28 per cent. of the standard spending assessment to run its headquarters operation? That money could go to the local schools if Devon was not so vociferous about the way in which it wishes to spend money.
My right hon. Friend makes a good point. He and some of my other hon. Friends representing constituencies in Devon have frequently made such points. Devon receives more per pupil in its education SSA than 35 other local education authorities.