HC Deb 21 July 1959 vol 609 cc1050-1
21. Sir D. Robertson

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland why a London building company has been appointed main contractors for four schools in Sutherland for which tenders have not yet been invited; and why official advice that this should be done was given by the Department of Education.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Niall Macpherson)

As already explained to my hon. Friend, the Sutherland Education Authority on the advice of its officials decided to adopt for these schools a specialised form of construction which only the firm referred to can undertake. The Department did not recommend this form of construction in preference to others, but mentioned seven firms, including the London firm referred to, which in its experience were capable of providing the new schools by the dates required by the authority.

Sir D. Robertson

Is it not the case that builders in Sutherland have always been able to build schools for the children, even when the population was double what it is now? Why should four small schools, totalling about £500,000 in cost, warrant the bringing in of a London company as the main contractors?

Mr. Macpherson

I think that my hon. Friend should recognise that this is a matter for the local authority to decide in the light of its knowledge of local resources.

Mr. E. Fletcher

May we take it from what the Joint Under-Secretary has said that there is no bias in Scotland against English firms of contractors, any more than there is bias in England against Scottish contractors?

Mr. Macpherson

That is true. We try to do the best for education.

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