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Technical And Vocational Training

Volume 173: debated on Tuesday 22 May 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement on the future of the technical and vocational education initiative.

The public expenditure White Paper shows planned expenditure in the TVEI of £134 million in 1990–91, £133 million in 1991–92 and £141 million in 1992–3. I am considering the future rate at which authorities can join the programme.

Do I understand from that answer that the Secretary of State is about to announce a cut in the rate of expansion of that service, which will mean that the six authorities in Scotland, including Tayside, Argyll, Ianark and Ayr, will lose out? This is an important matter because in Scotland children choose in June the subjects that they will study. They start the following year's programme in June and have already made their choices by then. A cut will demoralise teachers and pupils who have chosen courses that will not exist next month.

The figures that I quoted are well known and in the public domain. It is always made clear that the rate at which new authorities can be admitted to the programme will depend upon the availability of resources, and that is what I am considering for next year.

Some of the equipment installed in the early years of the TVEI is obviously in need of replacement. Is my right hon. and learned Friend satisfied with the speed at which that is being done?

I dare say that my hon. Friend is right, and there is always room for improvement. After the initial five years, the funding of the TVEI is, of course, a matter for local education authorities.

Why does the Secretary of State intend to cut the TVEI budget by £300 million between 1990–93 and 1994–98? Will he confirm that he regards that as part of the cuts crisis that is swamping his Department, or does he think that it is merely an adjustment?

There is no cuts crisis of any description. I do not know where the hon. Gentleman got his figures for the years from 1993 onwards. I have given the figures for the current public expenditure White Paper, and we are considering the pace at which we can admit further authorities to the programme.