HC Deb 20 March 1946 vol 420 cc963-1965

Where a local education authority are liable to pay the expense of carrying out any building work, repair work or work of a similar character which is required for the purposes of a controlled school, that work shall, if the local authority so determine, be carried out by persons employed by the authority; and it shall be the duty of the managers or governors of the school and of any trustees thereof to provide the authority and any such persons with all such facilities as they may reasonably require for the purpose of securing that any such work is properly executed. — [Mr. Hardman.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. Hardman

I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

This new Clause meets the point which has been made by the hon. Member for South Tottenham (Mr. Messer) relating to the enlargement of controlled schools. It enables the local education authority to carry out repairs and other similar works to controlled schools. The justification for the Clause is that the authorities are solely responsible for paying for such work, and, therefore, it is, very sensibly, suggested that they should be in a position to see that the work is done as economically as possible. It may be argued that the Clause should extend also to aided and special agreement schools. This has been considered, but we are unable to agree to it. The general principle is that where authorities are responsible for payment, they are naturally entitled to see that the work is carried out economically.

Mr. R. A. Butler

I should like to welcome this Clause, in that it makes the position more clear and more efficient. Many of the controlled schools will need considerable improvement and alteration, but as I have spoken on this point on several occasions recently, I do not think it is necessary to speak at any length. A great number of these schools are in a bad way, and it will be necessary to bring them up to an efficient standard, if they are to play their part in the development plan. All who admire the work which has been done in the past by church schools, realise that their premises need bringing up to standard, and the most efficient way of doing this is to give powers to the authorities. It will be necessary for the trustees, managers or governors to give every facility to such persons who undertake the work of alteration. This provision will be considered satisfactory by those who live in the villages, where many of the controlled schools are situated, and they will feel that the instrument for bringing about improvement will be efficient. Therefore, I consider this Clause to be most useful.


Mr. Nield

As I understand it, this Clause empowers local education authorities to execute the work, and it imposes on such persons as managers, or governors, the duty of giving facilities to carry out the work. The question which occurs to me is, what will be the penalty if the managers do not give these facilities? I raise this point for a particular reason. I have always urged that there should be a duty imposed on the managers of what used to be called non-provided schools, adequately to insure against third party risk and accident. The right hon. Lady will remember the Liverpool case. One of the difficulties there was the question of finding penalties In this case we have the duty imposed on managers to give facilities for work to be done, and, as far as I can see, there are no sanctions or penalties. Perhaps the Minister will tell us whether the grants are withheld in such cases.

Miss Wilkinson

If it really came to a question of sanctions, and the managers were being completely stupid, the sanction would be mandamus. In regard to the point raised in connection with compensation, perhaps the hon. and learned Member will wait until we deal with a later Clause.

Sir William Darling (Edinburgh, South)

It is stated in the Clause that the work shall be carried out by persons employed by the authority. Will the Minister tell us whether this includes direct and indirect labour? Certain authorities have their own staff, and in other cases the staff are employed by contract. It seems to me that the repairs cannot be carried out, except by persons employed by the authority.

Miss Wilkinson

The people are employed by the contractor, and the con tractor is employed by the local authority.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.