HC Deb 27 July 1944 vol 402 cc931-5

Lords Amendment: In page 13, line 1, leave out "the school," and insert "any."

Mr. Butler

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

This Amendment makes it clear that repairs not only to the interior of the school buildings, but also to detached buildings in the playground, are covered by the same rule, and are the responsibility of the local authority.

Question put, and agreed to.

Mr. Speaker

As this Amendment affects Privilege, a Special Entry will be made in the JOURNAL.

Lords Amendment: In page 13, line 2, after "buildings," insert "forming part of the school premises."

Mr. Butler

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

This Amendment makes it clear that the responsibility of the authority in respect of repairs does not extend to the teacher's dwelling house. Repairs to the teacher's dwelling house have always been the duty of the managers. That may be some consolation to the hon. and learned Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Moelwyn Hughes).

Question put, and agreed to. [Special Entry.]

Lords' Amendment: In page 13, line 27, at end, insert: (6) In this Section the expression 'school buildings,' in relation to any school, does not include any buildings required only for affording facilities for enabling the local education authority to carry out their functions with respect to medical inspection or treatment or for affording facilities for providing milk, meals or other refreshment for pupils in attendance at the school.

Mr. Butler

I beg to move: "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

The purpose of this Amendment is to remove a possible inconsistency between Clause 14 and Clauses 46 and 47. This Amendment put it beyond doubt that the expression "school buildings" does not include parts of the building required solely for medical inspection or for school meals.

Mr. Moelwyn Hughes

With respect, I suggest that my right hon. Friend should elucidate this Amendment a little further. Does it mean that if only part of a school is exclusively used for the purposes mentioned that is excluded? Secondly, what is the effect of the provision that the building or part of the building must be used only for that purpose? Suppose, as happens in many schools nowadays, the central hall of the school is used at midday as a dining room. Does that mean that that central hall can attract full Government grant, or that the interpretation will be that that is its main purpose or object? On those two matters the House would be grateful for some elucidation.

Mr. Ede

The words of the Amendment are: required only for affording facilities … Therefore, if the hall is used both as an assembly hall—what my hon. and learned Friend called a central hall—and as a dining room, the local education authority are not responsible for providing it. The school, under the building regulations, will have to have an assembly hall, but if, in addition to an assembly hall, there is, as it is sometimes felt advisable that there should be, a separate dining hall, and a room is provided which is required only for dining purposes, that is part of the local education authority's responsibility, and they will have to provide it. It is only those parts of the building which are required only for these purposes, which become the liability of the local education authority. I should have thought, in view of the way in which education is administered in the country, that is the reasonable line of division.

Let us take an area where the local education authority provide medical inspection and treatment at clinics away from the schools, where all the children from the various schools go to the clinics. Would it not be absurd that the managers of the voluntary school, in such circumstances, should not be relieved of the responsibility of financing medical inspection? Where the local education authority prefer what I regard as the better way, having the medical inspection on the school premises, they must be responsible for making the provision. I should have thought that the fairest thing is to say that school meals, medical inspection, and things of that description, should be the responsibility of the local education authority where the building or part of the building, provided is required only for that purpose. That is the effect of the Amendment. It was always inherent in the Bill, in the words of Clause 46 (5), which says, in dealing with medical inspection and treatment, that the managers or governors of any auxiliary school"— now "voluntary school"— … shall not be required by any such direction to incur expenditure. It would, I suggest, have been quite absurd to relieve the managers or governors of existing schools of such liability, and to impose it on managers or governors of schools which will be in course of erection in future. What we have done only carries out the obvious intention of those two Clauses, and places it beyond doubt.

Question, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment," put, and agreed to.— [special Entry.]

Subsequent Lords Amendment in page 13, line 29, agreed to.

Lords Amendment: In page 13, line 41, leave out from "Where "to" in,'' in line 45, and insert: in connection with any proposals submitted to the Minister under Sub-section (2) of Section twelve of this Act it is claimed that any school or schools thereby proposed to be established should be maintained by the local education authority as a voluntary school.

Mr. Butler

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

I think it would be convenient if we could consider this and other Lords Amendments, to line 2 in page 14, as they are all consequential upon this. This is purely a technical Amendment. When the Clause left this House, it would have been possible for the Minister to authorise the replacement of an existing school by one new school but not by more than one. But there may well be cases where an existing school should be replaced by more than one school and to enable that to be done is the object of these Amendments. It might create alarm in the minds of some Members, because they might imagine that it would lead to the creation of a whole series of new schools providing much more accommodation than the existing one.

That possibility is, however, safeguarded in the Clause as re-drafted, with these Amendments in it, by the fact that the Minister has to determine that the new school or schools are in substitution for the old one. In fact, if hon. Members will apply their minds to the matter, they will see that it is no more alarming for the Minister to satisfy himself where there are two schools in substitution for one than if he had one school with more pupils than in the old one. The fact that there are two schools, instead of one, is merely put in for convenience, and not with the idea of increasing the ambit of the clause by giving the Minister new and unheard-of powers.

Mr. Parker (Romford)

May I ask two questions on that point? Supposing you had a migration of population, with the re-housing of an area, say from Poplar to Dagenham. Suppose that originally it was proposed to have one new school in Dagenham in place of one in Poplar, but, as part of the re-housing proposals, the population being rather more scattered it was felt desirable to have two, or even three, new schools in place of the one previously existing. Would that mean that the same number of pupils would be covered and that they might be rather small schools? Suppose the denomination concerned decided to take advantage of the opportunity to build a larger school, more than the numbers would justify? In that case, if they felt that this would attract into this school other population round about, who were not transferred, would it be the case that for any building providing for more than the number of pupils originally covered, the denomination would have to put up its share of the extra funds, and the Minister would only consider the number of pupils transferred, as being genuinely transferred for this purpose? I would like an assurance on that point.

Mr. Ede

My hon. Friend's suggestion is the correct one. The substituted school will be for the same number of pupils as the existing school. If a school is divided—and, with some of the big barrack schools we have known in the past, there might well be a division—there will be a total number of pupils, and there will have to be some method by which they can be identified. If they cannot be identified, the question of substitution does not arise. It will not be possible, in this, to secure the financing of three schools equal to the size of the original school. It may well be that the original school may be split up between two or three new schools, and I think that that might be a great advantage.

Question, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment," put, and agreed to.

Subsequent Lords Amendments to page 17, line 40, agreed to.