HC Deb 26 March 1953 vol 513 cc821-2
18. Mr. Swingler

asked the Minister of Education how many school buildings which have been condemned as unsuitable are still in use; in what areas they are located; and how many children are on the rolls of these schools.

Miss Horsbrugh

A list drawn up in 1925 contained 2,827 schools of varying degrees of unsuitability. No comparable list has been drawn up since, but of the schools on the original list, 595 are still in use. I cannot say without examining the returns for each school how many children are attending them. I am sending the hon. Member a list of the areas, showing the number of schools in each.

Mr. Swingler

Now that the Minister has turned over a new leaf in a small way by increasing the number of schools to be started this year, can she say how soon she will have any prospect at all of" ending this shameful situation in which nearly 600 schools condemned 28 years ago are still being used?

Miss Horsbrugh

Of course, I am glad to hear from the hon. Member that I have turned over even a small leaf. I am continuing—and I say this in no party spirit—the policy my predecessor found necessary, and which, I agree, is necessary, first to deal with the absolute necessity of providing schools for the extra number of children coming to the schools. I am looking forward to a time when it may be possible to deal with the old schools, but I cannot say when it will be possible to do so.

Miss Bacon

Since it seems likely that these schools may exist for some years, can the Minister give us an assurance that more will be done to improve them, and particularly the sanitary arrangements of some of those schools?

Miss Horsbrugh

Yes, I have increased the amount that local authorities can spend out of their allocations on minor projects, and a good many improvements are being done in that way.

Mr. Remnant

Is my right hon. Friend not aware that her policy is resulting in the overcrowding of such places as grammar schools and existing buildings in which the facilities are totally unsuitable for half the number accommodated there?

Miss Horsbrugh

I certainly want to increase the amount of school accommodation. Any overcrowding in grammar schools at this moment cannot, at any rate, be my fault. Very few grammar schools have been built since I came into office. As I have told the House previously, we are increasing the amount of school building as rapidly as we possibly can.