asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many local education authorities have set aside funds, in trust funds or otherwise, to purchase places in (a) the primary sector of education and (b) the secondary sector of education; and what is the amount in each case.
Local education authorities have the power to take up places in non-maintained schools, subject to the approval of the Secretary of State. My right hon. Friend has approved arrangements submitted to her by 37 local education authorities to take up new places in respect of pupils of secondary age in the school year 1978–79. Details of the cost of these places are not readily available; none of the arrangements involves the use of trusts.
I also understand that the Greater Manchester Council, which is not a local education authority, plans to establish a trust to assist parents with the cost of school fees, and that in the current year it intends to allocate £1·12 million to the trust, using its powers under Section 137 of the Local Government Act 1972. These proposals will add to the burden on the ratepayers of Greater Manchester unnecessarily, and will weaken local education authority schools in the area by depriving them of some able pupils.