HC Deb 08 July 1948 vol 453 cc558-9
21. Mr. John Lewis

asked the Minister of Education how many new Catholic schools have been opened in Lancashire since 1945, specifying the areas and the dates upon which the schools have been opened.

The Minister of Education (Mr. Tomlinson)

None, Sir. But work is being carried out, or should shortly begin, on 10 Roman Catholic schools in Lancashire, seven of which will be new schools. This is in addition to an extensive programme of war damage repairs to Catholic schools in Liverpool which has been approved and on which work is in progress.

22 and 23. Mr. J. Lewis

asked the Minister of Education (1) why his Department have refused to permit the use of the church hall as a temporary school at St. Osmund's, Bolton, pending the decision regarding the permanent Catholic school to be erected, in view of the fact that 1,800 new houses are being built in the area, of which a high proportion of the occupants will be Catholics;

(2) if he will make a full statement regarding discussions which have taken place between his Department and the chief education officer and members of the education committee of the Bolton Town Council and the promoters, regarding the Catholic school which it is proposed should be built at St. Osmund's in Bolton; and why this matter has been constantly deferred, in spite of the fact that the need for such a school has been established.

Mr. Tomlinson

The latest information before me shows that the number of houses under construction in this area does not approach the figure of 1,800 given by my hon. Friend, and that the proportion of Roman Catholics among the future occupiers is not expected to be unusually high. No immediate need for a new school has been proved, but I have promised as a result of recent discussions with the local education authority to review the matter at the beginning of September. I could not agree to the establishment of a new school in the church hall even as a temporary measure. My Department has on several occasions explained to the authority and to the promoters that this hall is quite unsuitable for the purpose.

Mr. Lewis

Is my right hon. Friend aware that even if permission were granted for the building of a new school it could not possibly be completed before 1950, and that by that time there would be 280 pupils, based on an entry of 40 pupils per year, which would establish a claim for a school? A school cannot be provided at short notice to accommodate these children, and it is no use pretending that it can be.

Mr. Tomlinson

Those figures are hypothetical. In every instance in which a new school is built these factors are taken into account.

Mr. Lewis

In view of the completely inconclusive nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment at the earliest possible moment.