§ MR. MASSIE (Wiltshire, Cricklade)
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Education whether his attention has been drawn to the diversity in the practice of various local education authorities with regard to payments made by them for wear and tear in non provided school buildings and the sums apparently paid by some authorities in excess of their legal obligation; whether he will obtain a Return from all local education authorities showing the methods they adopt both in assessing the amount of their liability and in discharging it; and whether he will issue a general circular giving the authorities such; directions as will secure that the practice is uniform throughout the country, and that expenditure under this head is kept within strictly legal limits.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. JOHN BURNS,) Battersea
My right hon. friend has asked me to answer this Question. The matter to which it relates has been brought before the Local Government Board and the Board of Education in various forms during the last few years, and the Board of Education issued a circular with regard to it in May, 1904, intimating the view of the Local Government Board that a local education authority cannot legally enter into contracts with school managers for the commutation of the expenses of maintenance for which the local education authority are liable. The Education Act, 333 1902, leaves, however, a certain amount of discretion to local education authorities with regard to the amount which they will pay on account of wear and tear in non-provided schools. I have no authority to give directions which would have the effect of securing a uniform practice throughout the country in this matter, and it does not appear to me that there would be any advantage in obtaining a Return on the subject. If in any particular case it is considered that the action of the local education authority is illegal, it can be raised at the audit of their accounts.