HC Deb 26 April 1956 vol 551 cc1962-3
33. Mr. L. Thomas

asked the Minister of Education if he is aware that curtains provided for the Frank Hooker Secondary Modern School, Canterbury, cost £1,064, of which £979 was spent on curtaining the school hall; and why he approved this expenditure, since it is not in conformity with the Government's appeal for economy in local government expenditure.

Sir D. Eccles

The cost of the curtains was high because two walls of the assembly hall were made of glass, but I am advised that the cost of two glass walls with curtains was less than that of two solid walls without curtains.

Mr. Thomas

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is considerable public anxiety as to the degree of vigilance exercised by his Department on such expenditure? Will he take steps to ensure that the architects and designers associated with his Department so design these schools in future that these extravagant furnishings become unnecesary? Is my right hon. Friend further aware that he has aptly described this school hall? It is a veritable glasshouse, much more calculated to develop weeds than lusty young plants?

Sir D. Eccles

The architects in this case were very clever. They found a method of construction and furnishing that was cheap, and the cost of the equipment of the school hall is well below the average. However, I appreciate what my hon. Friend has said, and I propose shortly to announce limits on the total cost of school furnishings which will give guidance to local authorities.

Mr. M. Stewart

Could the right hon. Gentleman say how much curtains of this kind would have cost when the present Government came into power, and is it not unreasonable to expect local authorities to keep expenses down when Government policy keeps pushing up the cost of the things they have to buy?

Sir D. Eccles

I cannot answer the first part of the question, but local authorities are, in fact, being very successful in keeping down the cost of furnishing schools.

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