HC Deb 04 August 1898 vol 64 cc97-9
SIR W. HARCOURT (Monmouthshire, W.)

I beg to ask the Vice-President of the Committee of Council on Education whether the School Board of London made a written application to the Education Department, by letter of 30th July, 1897, stating that, in view of the deficiency and the pressure for school places in the district of East Lambeth W. and X., the Board were of opinion that the question as to the provision of permanent accommodation should be delayed no longer, and asking authority for a site in order to erect a new school; whether, on 18th August, 1897, the Education Department, by letter, authorised the School Board to secure a site in either sub-divisions W. or X. of East Lambeth; whether, acting on this letter in November, 1897, the School Board advertised their intention to take Parliamentary powers to acquire a site in Cuthill Road, being situated in subdivision W.; whether, on 30th April, 1898, the Education Department drew up a Provisional Order Bill including the Cuthill Road site, stating that they had caused inquiries to be made locally as to the propriety of the Order in regard to the sites; whether he will state at whose instance, and for what reason, after the Bill had passed through a Select Committee of the House of Lords, and the Unopposed Committee of the House of Commons, the Education Department struck this site out of the Bill; and whether he gave any notice to the School Board of his intention to strike out the site which had been authorised, or subsequently informed the Board of his action, or the reasons on which it was founded?

MR. FLOWER (Bradford, W.)

Before the right honourable Gentleman answers may I, as a member of the London School Board, ask if it is not the fact that the Department have already addressed a letter to the Board, disclaiming any discourtesy, and expressing in suitable terms regret that notice was not given of the intended change, also' intimating the intention to intimate such changes in future?


The statements in the first four paragraphs are correct. The Education Department struck out the site on its own responsibility, on representations from the district affected, which were communicated to the Department by the honourable Member for the Peckham Division of Camberwell. The reason for so doing was that the Department considered itself bound by the transactions of 1896 not to sanction the site until the temporary schools had received an adequate trial. No previous notice, as I have before stated, was given to the London School Board, as time did not admit of it. The Board has been subsequently informed of the action of the Department and the reasons for it. In answer to the Member for West Bradford I have to say that the Department has expressed its regret to the School Board that no previous notice could be given, and on future occasions notice will be given unless unforeseen emergencies should prevent it.


May I ask why, in the circumstances, the Education Department on 18th August authorised the School Board to secure a site in the localities mentioned?


I do not know that that arises out of the Question. No doubt the Education Department was responsible for the letter written on 18th August; but I explained to the House on a former occasion that the transaction did not come to the knowledge of the heads of the Department until a very short time before the Bill came before the Committee of the House of Commons.