HC Deb 22 October 1953 vol 518 cc2119-21
1. Mr. Swingler

asked the Minister of Education how many primary and secondary schools, respectively, are at present under construction; and how these figures compare with those at the same time of year in 1951 and 1952.

The Minister of Education (Miss Florence Horsbrugh)

The numbers of primary schools under construction in England and Wales on the 31st August in the years 1951, 1952 and 1953 were 883, 759 and 654 respectively. The corresponding figures for secondary schools were 267, 299 and 376.

Mr. Swingler

I congratulate the Minister on her appointment to the Cabinet and I also congratulate hon. Members on this side of the House for persuading the Prime Minister that it was a good idea; but may I ask the Minister why she is allowing the building programme still further to decline? Is she aware that the number of schools started in the first six months of this financial year is less than for last year, and that is a really shocking figure?

Miss Horsbrugh

I thank the hon. Member for his congratulations to me and to Members on the other side of the House. More secondary schools are now being built—the increase is going to the secondary schools—and I am glad to say that the starts are more than when I took office.

17. Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

asked the Minister of Education what capital allocations have so far been made this year for the construcion of new schools; and what were the corresponding figures for 1951 and 1952, respectively.

Miss Horsbrugh

Capital allocations for school building are made for the financial and not the calendar year. The value of major primary and secondary school building projects included in the educational building programme for England and Wales for the current year is £45 million. The value of the 1952–53 school building programme was about the same. The corresponding figure for 1951–52 was £42 million, but about £28 million worth of this work was transferred to later programmes or abandoned.

18. Mr. Swingler

asked the Minister of Education on how many of the new schools which were completed between the date of her taking office and 8th October, 1953, was construction commenced before the present Government took office.

Miss Horsbrugh

Between 1st November, 1951, and 31st August, 1953, 849 new schools were completed. Work on 52 of these began after 1st November, 1951.

Mr. Swingler

Is it too much to ask that when the Minister next addresses the Tory Party conference she will tell them that the foundations of most of the schools supplied since she was in office were laid by the Labour Government, and that many fewer foundations have been laid since?

Miss Horsbrugh

I shall be delighted at any time to point out that the fact that 52 schools have been built in 22 months is a record in school building. The fact that 849 new schools were completed shows the enormous amount of uncompleted and, therefore, useless buildings which were in existence.

Brigadier Medlicott

Is the Minister aware of the widespread and well-founded satisfaction experienced in the county of Norfolk, where she has authorised the building this year of no fewer than three modern secondary schools, a record in the history of the county?

Miss Horsbrugh

It is not only a record for one county. The rate of new starts is now faster than when I took office.

Mr. G. Thomas

In view of the Minister's reply, is it not thoroughly dishonest to claim that more school places have been provided by the Conservative Government than were provided by the Labour Government in a given period of time, as the Home Secretary stated on the wireless, since these schools were actually provided by the Labour Government?

Miss Horsbrugh

While there were buildings school places were not provided, and it is only when a school is completed that a child can go into it.