HC Deb 25 March 1926 vol 193 cc1353-5
22. Mr. PALING

asked the President of the Board of Education whether any local education authorities have during the last four months either raised the fees fox entrance to secondary schools or reduced the number of free places; and, if not, whether any such authorities have notified their intention to do so?


No proposals to in ct case fees in provided schools have been received in my Department during the last four months. As regards free places, variations in the number of awards do not require my specific sanction unless a variation in the limits prescribed in the Regulations is involved. So far as I am aware, local education authorities are acting on the view, stated in paragraph 6 of Administrative Memorandum 44, that it is not desirable to interfere with the normal entry to secondary schools or to re duce the number of free places.


Does not the question of economy, as interpreted by the Noble Lord, affect the number of free places?


The question of economy, as interpreted by me, is in terpreted in Memorandum 44, and 1 would suggest that the hon. Member should read it.


Has it not. actually made for a reduction in the number of free places?


No, because a reduction in the number of free places is specially excluded in that document, if the hon. Member will read it,


asked the President of the Board of Education what is at present the average cost of each additional secondary school place and what items are included in the cost; and whether, in the present state of financial stringency, the Board of Education propose to sanction more schools, involving this average expenditure per place, or if they are considering any scheme for reducing the minimum requirements now insisted upon by the Board?


Building costs depend upon a variety of local factors, but., generally speaking, the average cost per place, exclusive of site and furniture, in secondary schools is at the present time £100–£120, according to the type of accommodation provided. Capital expenditure on secondary schools in relation to net increase in the number of pupils has recently been in creasing at a, much greater rate than this, owing mainly to the replacement or improvement of existing school buildings. As regards the second part of the question, I have appointed a. committee of experts to advise me upon the construction of school buildings with special reference, among other things, to the reduction of cost.


Might I ask the noble Lord whether he has been entirely misrepresented in the statement that it was something like £240, which purported to be a report of his speech in Rugby?


I deal with that in my answer, if my hon. Friend will look at it. The other figure was that of the rate at which capital expenditure on secondary schools was increasing in pro portion to the increase of the number of pupils, owing to the large amount of capital expenditure, not on providing new places, but on replacing accommodation for existing places.


Might I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it is possible to persuade the building unions to speed up the construction of school buildings, so that provision may be made more rapidly and more cheaply of necessary school places for the children of the people?


Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that the bricklayers are using bricks as fast as they are being produced in this country?


I do not think, as far as secondary schools are concerned, that delays in building are really responsible for the cost of these schools. The cost is caused by present standards of provision and the requirements of the present curriculum. I think the whole question as to the scale in providing secondary schools is a very grave one, which will have to be considered.


asked the President of the Board of Education how many secondary schools have since 1st January, 1926, intimated their intention to increase their scales of fees; and how many secondary schools have indicated since the same date their intention to reduce the number of free places?

Lord E.. PERCY

As stated in my answer to the hon. Member for Don caster (Mr. Paling) to-day, no such applications have been received from local authorities. As regards non-pro vided schools, six proposals for an increase of fees, and one proposal for a reduction in the number of free places, have been received by my Department since 1st January last. This compares with seven such applications approved by the Board in the first three months of last year.