Entry: "Parliamentary Question: Education - 17 July 2003"

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Ms Oona King (Bethnal Green and Bow): I apologise for being a few minutes late for my right hon. Friend's statement, but I was receiving a petition from the Tower Hamlets parents association signed by hundreds of residents. Like me, they are desperately concerned about the £5.5 million funding shortfall for education in

Tower Hamlets. I thank the Secretary of State for seeing my hon. Friend the Member for Poplar and Canning Town (Jim Fitzpatrick) and me about this problem. I particularly welcome his announcements on standards funds. What assurance can he give parents, teachers, governors and local government that schools that set a deficit budget as a result of the reduction in standards funds last year—not this year, but the 2003–04 financial year—and the increase in teachers' pay will get the additional funding they need to prevent redundancies and to set a balanced budget?

Mr. Clarke: I am aware of the issues in my hon. Friend's constituency, and I am grateful for her acknowledgement that we had a useful meeting to discuss these questions. I do not think that there is anything I can add on deficit budgets for this year, but I shall certainly take her remarks fully into account.