Between 2001–02 and 2004–05, primary schools in Coventry received a total of £9.8 million in school standards grant. Secondary schools received £6.5 million, and special schools £1.1 million. In addition, in 2000–01, the first year of the grant, Coventry received £1.7 million in school standards grant for distribution to its schools.
Schools in Coventry have received an increase of £990 per pupil since 1997—a rise of 34 per cent. As I understand it, that is more than the average across the rest of the country.
Why did the Chancellor say in his Budget last week that the continuation of direct payment to schools in Coventry and elsewhere would be a guarantee, when the small print in the Red Book said that the figures were illustrative only? If direct payments to schools are such a good idea, why does not the Secretary of State follow the Conservative policy of making all such payments direct to schools and thus cutting out local education authorities entirely?
My right hon. Friend the Chancellor was referring to new money that will be available to schools in 2006–07 and 2007–08. Of course, that will be linked to pupil numbers, so individual schools will have to work out, with their local authority, precisely what their entitlement is. As for Conservative policy, will the hon. Gentleman confirm that transferring money direct to schools would not mean that he would cut the school transport budget?
Order. Both sides are at fault in this. The Opposition Front-Bench spokesman should not ask about Conservative party policy. That is not one of the Secretary of State's responsibilities, and that is why I gave her some leeway. Moreover, I received notice as to which questions the Opposition spokesman wanted to be allowed to come in on only when I entered the Chamber. I want that information before I enter the House.