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Baroness Blackstone: No, my Lords, I was not aware of that, but I hope that the outcome of the dispute is a victory for this House.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, the noble Baroness said that PE remains compulsory. As the national curriculum has been relaxed for art, PE and music, does it still remain compulsory?

Baroness Blackstone: Yes, my Lords, it still remains compulsory. The national curriculum has been relaxed for primary school children in order to ensure that our

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targets for numeracy and literacy should be met. But there is no way that primary schools should stop teaching all these other subjects. The QCA is advising on how a broad and balanced curriculum can be maintained while at the same time ensuring that we meet our very important targets for numeracy and literacy.

Education: Expenditure

2.53 p.m.

Lord Hardy of Wath asked Her Majesty's Government:

    By what amount expenditure on education in 1998-99 will exceed expenditure in 1996-97; and whether there will be a further significant increase in the following year.

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, we anticipate spending on education in the UK to rise by £2.6 billion between 1996-97 and 1998-99. This includes an additional £1 billion for schools recurrent, over and above the plans of the previous administration for 1998-99; and an additional £300 million for schools capital, part of the New Deal for Schools programme of £1.3 billion across the Parliament. A further £100 million for capital projects and education action zones was added in the March Budget. Expenditure for future years will be set following the Government's comprehensive spending review. When noble Lords see the outcome of the spending review they will clearly see our commitment to education.

Lord Hardy of Wath: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that reply. Will she confirm that her Answer means that the Government have already more than matched the yield of the 1p extra on income tax which the Liberals promised so frequently during the last election? Does her Answer also mean that the Government are demonstrating such commendable commitment to education as to mean that the previous government's contribution was grossly unsatisfactory? If I may say so, does that explain why the Opposition kept us here half the night in an example of belated remorse?

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I am sure that it was nothing to do with belated remorse that kept us here until ten past three this morning. We were having an interesting debate in the Committee stage of the School Standards and Framework Bill. We cannot know what the Liberal Democrats would have spent on education. They have not been in government for rather a long time; neither are they very likely to be in government for a long time. So I think we have to take what they say with a pinch of salt. However, we know that they have often said that they would put an extra penny on income tax and put the proceeds towards education. One penny on income tax would raise £1.8 billion, which is only 70 per cent. of the increase we have delivered. In the first year alone we are doing £800 million better than that and we have not raised income tax rates.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, spending as a percentage of GDP in 1996-97 was 4.9 per cent.

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Spending as a percentage of GDP on education in 1998-99 has fallen to 4.7 per cent. In the last 11 years of the previous government, spending on education was increased over all of that period by 2.7 per cent. in real terms per annum. Is it the Government's intention to sustain that level of increase in real terms per annum into the future, or even to better it?

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, because of the comprehensive spending review, I cannot anticipate what spending on education or indeed on any other part of public expenditure will be in the future. But what I can say to the noble Baroness is that provision for local authority recurrent spending on schools rises by £1,017 million or 5.7 per cent. in cash, a real terms increase of 2.7 per cent. for this year; and provision for schools' capital rises by £320 million over the previous administration's plans for 1997-98, a 48 per cent. cash increase or a 44 per cent. increase in real terms, which I think compares very favourably with the record of the previous administration.

Lord Razzall: My Lords, does the noble Baroness accept that it is slightly extraordinary that her Answer to the initial Question indicated in some way an attack on the Liberal Democrats, who shared the objective of the noble Baroness to improve education standards in this country? Does she agree, following the question of the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, that it is true that the Government are spending a lower proportion of GDP in real terms on education than the previous government did? Will she accept that we will not achieve significant improvements in education unless the result of the spending review is the release of more money to the education sector?

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, of course I want to see more money released to the education sector and I am delighted to have support for that from the Liberal Democrat Benches. I hope the noble Lord will convey his views on this to my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. We are looking for support from anywhere we can find it.

My noble friend Lord Hardy asked me about the position in comparison with the Liberal Democrats. I gave what I thought was an accurate answer. We are £800 million further up the ladder of educational spending than we would have been after 1p on income tax--in the very unlikely event that there might have been a Liberal Democrat administration.

Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede: My Lords, can my noble friend say how much additional expenditure will be devoted to raising standards in our schools?

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, yes. The standards fund will support a programme of £505 million, which is an increase of £200 million over the equivalent programme in 1997-98. Some key elements supported by the fund are £50 million for the National Literacy Strategy--I have already mentioned in Answer to an earlier Question the importance we attach to improving literacy; £22 million for reducing infant class sizes; £100

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million for the National Grid for Learning--I am sure that noble Lords will agree that it is very important that we introduce IT into our schools; £21 million for improving pupil attendance and behaviour; £2 million for work-related learning; and £20 million for school security.


3 p.m.

Lord Carter: My Lords, in between today's two debates, my noble friend the Leader of the House will, with the leave of the House, repeat a Statement that is to be made in another place on the G8 Summit. I would like to take this opportunity to remind the House that the Companion indicates that the discussion on the Statement should be confined to brief comments and to questions for clarification.

Statute Law Repeals Bill [H.L.]

The Lord Chancellor: My Lords, I beg to introduce a Bill to promote the reform of the statute law by the repeal, in accordance with recommendations of the Law Commission and the Scottish Law Commission, of certain enactments which (except in so far as their effect is preserved) are no longer of practical utility, and to make other provision in connection with the repeal of those enactments. I beg to move that this Bill be now read a first time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read a first time.--(The Lord Chancellor.)

On Question, Bill read a first time, and to be printed.

Sea Fisheries (Shellfish) (Amendment) Bill [H.L.]

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy: My Lords, on behalf of my noble kinsman Lord Lindsay, I beg to introduce a Bill to amend the Sea Fisheries (Shellfish) Act 1967 in respect of several fisheries. I beg to move that this Bill be now read a first time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read a first time.--(Lady Saltoun of Abernethy.)

On Question, Bill read a first time, and to be printed.

Scotland Bill

Brought from the Commons; read a first time, and to be printed.

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Travel Expenses: Bicycle Allowance

3.2 p.m.

The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Richard): My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

I rise with confidence to move this Motion. In January this year the SSRB recommended that a bicycle allowance be introduced for Members of both Houses. This allowance will apply to journeys for which Members can currently claim the motor mileage allowance or the reimbursement of fares. I am told that bicycle allowances are commonly available in the public sector to reimburse the cost of using bicycles on official business and they are becoming increasingly common in the private sector. Based on that, the SSRB concluded,

    "It would be appropriate to introduce such an allowance for Members of both Houses".

The allowance is to be set at 6.2 pence per mile to be updated annually in line with increases in the RPI. I commend the Motion to the House.

Moved, That this House approves the following proposals for the payment of a bicycle allowance to Lords in attending the House of Lords for the purpose of their parliamentary duties or in respect of journeys which they have undertaken by bicycle while on parliamentary duties within the United Kingdom--

(1) In respect of journeys commenced in the year starting with 1st April 1998, the allowance shall be paid at a rate of 6.2 pence per mile increased by the percentage (if any) by which the retail prices index for March 1998 has increased compared with the index for March 1997.

(2) For each subsequent year starting with 1st April, the rate shall be increased by the percentage (if any) by which the retail prices index for the previous March has increased compared with the index for the March before that,

(3) The rate shall be calculated to the nearest tenth of a penny (with exactly one twentieth being rounded up).

(4) In this Resolution, the "retail price index" means the general index of retail prices (for all items) published by the Office for National Statistics (or any index or figures published by that Office in place of that index).--(Lord Richard.)

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