HC Deb 21 April 1953 vol 514 cc799-800
22. Miss Herbison

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many children who have reached their fifth birthday have not obtained admittance to school.

Mr. Henderson Stewart

I have made inquiries in those areas where difficulties are most likely to have arisen and I am informed that, with the exception of about 10 children in Dundee, no children of school age have been refused admission to school.

Miss Herbison

In making his inquiries, has the Joint Under-Secretary also made inquiries about what the position will be next year? If he has discovered that the position will be more difficult, would his Department change its policy and build more schools rather than having a 40 per cent. cut as it did in 1952?

Mr. Stewart

As to the second part of the supplementary question, we have no reason to believe that matters will not be all right in the immediate future. Certainly, in the case of these 10 children, we have every reason to believe that they will be looked after quite soon. As regards school building, I think the hon. Lady must be under a misapprehension. We are not stopping local authorities from putting up new schools now. The obstacles that were there before are not there to the same extent, and I want more schools just as much as she does.

Miss Herbison

Is the Minister not aware that, from his own figures given in answer to a previous Question, in 1952 there was a cut of almost 40 per cent. in commencing the building of new schools? Is he not also aware that many of us do not accept that all of that cut was due to lack of materials?

Mr. Stewart

As the hon. Lady knows, one of the reasons—perhaps the main reason—for reducing the number of new starts was in order that the available labour and materials might be used to complete schools already begun, and I think that every expert agrees with us that from the point of view of building schools it was the right policy.

Mr. J. Taylor

Can the hon. Gentleman say how many Scottish children between the ages of five and eight are receiving part-time education in Scottish schools?

Mr. Stewart

I would need notice of that Question, but I think the numbers must be infinitesimal, if there are any at all.

Mr. G. M. Thomson

Can the Minister tell us what steps he is taking to meet the serious situation which he has outlined in Dundee?

Mr. Stewart

I will gladly tell the hon. Gentleman. Of the 10 children in Dundee aged five who were not admitted to school at the last admission date in February, three are living in new housing areas where the schools have not yet been completed, and two of the others are delicate and their parents asked to be allowed to keep them at home for a period. The education authority in Dundee is hoping to find places for four of these children before the end of the session and the others will be admitted at the next commencement date in August.

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