HC Deb 21 February 1963 vol 672 cc627-8
25. Mr. Swingler

asked the Minister of Education what was the total value of the building projects which local authorities most recently submitted to him for the yearly building programme; and what proportion in value of these projects he approved.

Sir E. Boyle

For 1964–65 local education authorities submitted proposals for the school, further education and special school building programmes totalling about £240 million. As to the second part of the Question I would refer the hon. Member to the Answer which I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (Mr. van Straubenzee) on I2th February last.

Mr. Swingler

Does the right hon. Gentleman intend to continue granting only a comparatively small proportion of the projects submitted by local authorities? Does he take the view of his predecessor that local authorities are submitting grossly inflated programmes? Would he not agree that he should go to the Cabinet and ask for a much larger building programme?

Sir E. Boyle

I think that I can best put it this way. Some local education authorities would be surprised, and a few might be somewhat stunned, if they were to receive everything for which they asked. Experience has shown that it is no good having a large programme of starts with completions being held up. It is worth remembering that last year we had a figure of £66 million worth of work done on school building compared with £49 million the previous year.

Mr. J. Wells

May I ask my right hon. Friend if he would be kind enough to give Kent Education Committee all that it has asked for in its minor works programme when it would be in a position to get on with the work forthwith?

Sir E. Boyle

As my hon. Friend will see, the Question was concerned primarily with major works. However, since my hon. Friend has been so valiantly pressing for the Kent minor works, I am aware of the logic in what he says.

Mr. Wiley

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the programme falls short of the current achievement and that it is not very ambitious? When is he going to adjust the programme in the light of increased building costs? When he talks about resources, is he aware that, for example, in Sunderland we have 2,000 unemployed building trade workers and that the programme has been drastically cut?

Sir E. Boyle

It is exactly because of the unemployment position in the northern areas that, following my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer's announcement, I decontrolled minor works in those areas where there is 4 per cent. and upwards of unemployment and this is likely to add about £1¾ million to the total minor works output for the year.