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Volume 934: debated on Tuesday 28 June 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will consider making specific grants to local authorities for education purposes.

My right hon. Friend's existing powers to make specific grants are limited mainly to expenditure on mandatory awards to students, but, as the Green Paper on Local Government Finance (Cmnd. 6813) makes clear, it is the Government's view that there is a case on grounds of national priorities for some modest increase in the proportion of Government aid payable as specific grant, particularly in relation to the education service. My right hon Friend has already begun discussions with the local authority associations on this matter.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what percentage of the gross national product of the United Kingdom was spent on education in each of the past three years; and, from international sources available to her, what were the comparable figures in the United States of America and in the other member countries of the EEC.

The three latest years for which figures are available on a comparable basis for most of the countries concerned are 1971, 1972 and 1973. These are published in successive editions of the UNESCO Statistical Yearbook and are given below. They refer to public expenditure on education.

Percentage of gross national product at market prices
United Kingdom5·96·0†6·2*
United States of America6·86·56·7
Germany (Federal Republic)4·54·04·1
NA Not available on internationally comparable basis.
* Provisional or estimated.
† Based on returns sent to UNESCO but not yet published.
‡ Ministry of Education expenditure only.
§ Percentage of gross domestic product at market prices.
It must be emphasised that the UNESCO definition of public expenditure differs from that used in the corresponding statistics officially compiled and published in the United Kingdom, and that the UNESCO definition of gross national product is at market prices—which includes taxes and excludes subsidies— rather than at factor cost. Moreover, since the education systems of the various countries have salient differences which can affect comparability care should be exercised in any use made of the figures.