§ Mr. Blunkett
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what(a) statistics and (b) representations her Department has assessed regarding spending on (i) discretionary awards and (ii) special needs by local education authorities in England in 1995–96 and 1996–97; and if she will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Forth
The latest available data from local education authorities on discretionary awards are for the academic year 1994–95. Provisional national data were published in a departmental press notice—110/96—on 1 April 1996. Final data, including information from individual local education authorities, will be published on 22 November in the statistics of education student support volume, 1994–95. Provisional data at national level for the academic year 1995–96 will be available in spring 1997.
Both the number and level of discretionary awards have been in decline recently. Representations have been made about this by a wide range of bodies representing the interests of students and institutions in dance and drama, horticulture and agriculture, legal practice and other disciplines. These are matters for local education authorities, who decide which students to support and at what rates in the light of local needs and priorities and the resources available.
Funds for special education are contained within the education standard spending assessment but cannot be separately identified. Local education authorities can and do spend more or less than their education SSA on education services.