HC Deb 11 July 1963 vol 680 cc1401-3
24. Mr. D. Griffiths

asked the Minister of Education if he will authorise the cost of swimming baths in the new buildings for the Mexborough Grammar School and Junior College.

25. Mr. Wainwright

asked the Minister of Education if, to enable the local education authority to put into operation its plans to build swimming baths at the Mexborough Grammar School and Junior College, he will reconsider his decision not to increase the cost limits.

Sir E. Boyle

No, Sir. A swimming bath could be provided at this school only by exceeding the cost limit for the project or by drastic replanning, which would delay its erection. I would not feel justified in treating this case exceptionally in view of the more pressing claims on the school building programme.

Mr. Griffiths

I thank the Minister for that reply, which I expected. Is he aware that I regard this as sheer stupidity on his part and on the part of his Department? Is he aware that it is costing four authorities, for the hire of baths and travel facilities for these children, over £2,560 per annum in that division alone? Is not that false economy?

Sir E. Boyle

No; if it is any comfort to the hon. Member, I can tell him that Ministry officials have only recently been discussing with representatives of the West Riding ways in which swimming baths can be provided within the framework of present arrangements for capital investment. Work on this school is due to begin next Monday, 15th July. It would be a mistake to hold it up now.

Mr. Wainwright

But does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that physical education is not merely a matter of gymnasiums; swimming is also very important for physical education and for the saving of lives? Has he taken into account the fact that there will be a saving of £400 per year for this divisional educational committee if he has baths installed, because of the costs outlined by my hon. Friend? Does not he think that it is time that every secondary school in this country had swimming facilities for its children, to enable them to save not only their own livesbut the lives of other people?

Sir E. Boyle

I am not saying that swimming is unimportant. As I said, my Ministry officials have been discussing this matter with the West Riding local education authority. It was raised with me by the authority when I visited it earlier this year. But we would not be justified in altering our rules about the cost limit, or justified in holding up work on this school.

Mr. Prior

With regard to the provision of swimming pools generally, will my right hon. Friend look into the cost of portable swimming pools, which are ridiculously expensive for what they provide? Will he see if his Ministry can cheapen them, so that more people will have a chance of using them?

Sir E. Boyle

My hon. Friend is now raising a wider issue. If he will correspond with me about the cost of swimming pools I shall be glad to hear what he has to say.

Mr. Wainwright

In view of the very unsatisfactory nature of that reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise this matter on the Adjournment as soon as possible.