HC Deb 07 May 1964 vol 694 cc1441-2
23. Mr. J. Harvey

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he is aware that 28 per cent. of Walthamstow's schoolchildren are being educated in schools built before 1900 while only 33 per cent. are being educated in post-war schools; and by what date his approvals of new constructions will enable Walthamstow more closely to approach the national average in educational standards.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. Christopher Chataway)

I understand that 25 per cent. of Walthamstow children are in schools built before 1900 and nearly 34 per cent. are in completely new postwar schools and in schools which have been brought fully up to modern standards. This figure is about the national average.

Mr. Harvey

While I am pleased to note that in terms of post-war schools Walthamstow is thought not to be lagging behind the national average, may I ask whether my hon. Friend considers that the large number of those being educated in schools built in the last century suggests that it is high time that greater priority was now given to replacing these very old schools?

Mr. Chataway

My right hon. Friend recognises the claims of Walthamstow on the major building programme approved for Essex, which for the next two years is valued at £3.9 million and £4.1 million respectively; these figures compare with £1.6 million for the current year.

Mr. Shinwell

When the Minister was bragging on television last night about the remarkable and phenomenal school building programme for which the Tory Government are alleged to be responsible, had he happened to read this Question beforehand?

Mr. Chataway

Yes, Sir. The record of school building by this Government is indeed a creditable one and it is significant that from the Opposition Front Bench, so far as I know, there has been no undertaking to implement larger programmes than we have announced.

Mr. Wiley

The Parliamentary Secretary should know that he is quite wrong. We have discussed the school building programme in previous debates and made quite clear that we regard the present Government programme as wholly unsatisfactory and inadequate.

Mr. Chataway

If this undertaking to implement a programme larger apparently than £80 million a year can be equated with what the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) has said on more than one occasion, I shall be much surprised.