HC Deb 13 May 1965 vol 712 cc679-80
8. Mr. Armstrong

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many outdoor pursuit centres have been established in England and Wales; and what steps he is taking to expand this work.

Mr. Denis Howell

Detailed information is not available on the whole range of establishments known as outdoor pursuit centres, but I understand there are 30 mountain activities centres alone. There is a continuing movement among local education authorities and voluntary bodies towards the expansion of this work with which my Department is closely in touch.

Mr. Armstrong

Will my hon. Friend continue to support this very valuable activity? Is he aware that in Durham and Sunderland we have had particularly valuable experience of outdoor pursuits, for instance, mountaineering, canoeing and hill climbing, providing wonderful experience for youngsters in these days?

Mr. Howell

We are delighted about this development, and the Department has had some hand in setting up the mountain leadership training board because we feel that in this activity leadership is the key to expansion.

Mr. Hamling

Is my hon. Friend aware that in certain cases when local education authorities in England seek to open this sort of centre, perhaps in Scotland, they run into administrative difficulties as regards grants?

Mr. Howell

I am not aware of any great administrative difficulty. Fourteen of the 30 mountain activity centres are run by local education authorities, and we know of several others which are looking out for suitable premises to purchase. If my hon. Friend has any examples of difficulty, I shall be delighted if he will let me know.