HC Deb 21 January 1965 vol 705 cc384-6
9. Mr. Rhodes

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what percentage of the school population of the eastern area of Newcastle-upon-Tyne is at present being accommodated in schools constructed more than 50 years ago; what cuts in the school building proposals submitted by the local education authority were imposed between October, 1959, and October, 1964; and what proposals he has to deal with this problem in future.

The Minister of State, Department of Education and Science (Mr. R. E. Prentice)

I understand from the local education authority that the percentage is 49.7. For the five major school building programmes from 1962–63 to 1966–67 which were announced between October, 1959, and October, 1964, the authority submitted 15 proposals at an estimated cost of £2.57 million; 7 projects costing £1.93 million were approved. My right hon. Friend will consider the needs of the Newcastle authority carefully when he comes to announce the next school building programmes.

Mr. Rhodes

I thank my hon. Friend for his reply, but is he aware that, of the 17 county primary schools in East Newcastle, no fewer than 14 were constructed before the First World War, and that, of those, 7 were built in the age of Queen Victoria; and that of the 13 county secondary schools in the area, 9 were built before the First World War, five being built in the last century? In the light of those facts, would not he agree that the severe cuts in the school building programme during his predecessor's term of office was a misguided policy, and will he bear in mind—[HON. MEMBER: "Speech."]—that in improving the image of the North-East it is vitally important to get rid of slum schools; and that that depends on greater co-operation between his Department and the L.E.A. than took place—

Mr. Speaker

Order. It is really quite essential in the general interest that supplementary questions should be short. We had better stop at that point in it.

Mr. Prentice

The position in East Newcastle is very unsatisfactory from that point of view, but the allocation to Newcastle of permission to go ahead with capital projects is almost exactly in the same proportion of the national allocation in recent years as the school population warrants; and that is an indication that school building programmes in general have not been dealing sufficiently with the kind of problem all over the country to which my hon. Friend refers.

Mr. R. W. Elliott

Is the Minister aware that his hon. Friend's Question is really a criticism of the priority system of the local Labour education authority? Is he aware that a great deal of school building has been done in Newcastle since 1959, but that there has been a concentration on the building of a large comprehensive school in the west end of the city, and plans for a large comprehensive school in the east end of the city, and that these two projects have militated against the repair of the older schools—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Will he see to it that the future planning of educatonal establishments in Newcastle—

Mr. Speaker

Order. I invite the attention of the House to the fact how one bad practice causes a repetition of the same bad practice. Having ventured to occupy time myself, I should like to draw attention to the fact that prefacing a supplementary question with the words "Is the Minister aware" does not rid one of the obligation not to use the question for the purpose of giving information. I think that we shall have to remember that, or we really shall not manage Questions. I think that we had better not have that one answered in the circumstances. It is better not. Mr. Charles Morrison.

Sir Knox Cunningham

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I would point out that it is nearly 3 o'clock, and we have only had nine Questions. Could it be possible—

Hon. Members

Sit down.

Mr. Speaker

I think that for that reason we had better get on, and not have points of order. Mr. Charles Morrison.