HC Deb 24 February 1966 vol 725 cc605-6
15. Mr. Hornby

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what allowance he makes for regional differences in building costs when allocating capital sums for the School-building programme.

The Minister of State, Department of Education and Science (Mr. Edward Redhead)

None, Sir.

Mr. Hornby

Is the Minister of State aware that the ability of authorities to get the necessary work done in the building of schools is affected considerably by the cost of each building? Will he look at this again, particularly at the suggestion he made in correspondence with me—that the South-East is not a high-cost building area? Is he further aware that that statement was viewed with amazement by people in the area?

Mr. Redhead

Local variations in cost limits would not only be difficult to calculate, because evaluation of the factors making for high or low costs would be complicated and open to question, but would run into practical difficulties, as areas where quotations are high are usually local pockets within a local authority area. I am afraid that, on investigation, we have not found the hon. Gentleman's suggestion a practicable one to follow.

16. Mr. Hornby

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what sum he proposes to make available in 1967–68 for major School-building works in Kent.

Mr. Redhead

My right hon. Friend has made £1,479,000 available for the first part of 1967–68. He will decide the rest of the year's programme when he has considered the authority's proposals, which he will be inviting shortly.

Mr. Hornby

When looking at the second half of his proposals, will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind the very big problems facing local authorities where there has been a substantial influx of population? In particular, will he consider how difficult it is for authorities like Kent to catch up with the problems of improving existing school buildings as well as building new?

Mr. Redhead

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that he and other hon. Members, as well as the Kent Education Authority, have made representations about Kent in this respect. I can only repeat what my right hon. Friend has already said in reply to a Question by the hon. Member for Sevenoaks (Sir J. Rodgers) on 10th February—that those representations will be borne in mind when my right hon. Friend considers the next round of the building programme.

Mr. Murray

Would my hon. Friend say whether his right hon. Friend is to give any priority to authorities which have submitted schemes in accordance with Circular 10/65?

Mr. Redhead

The contents of Circular 10/65, to which my hon. Friend has drawn attention, make it clear that in present circumstances no special provision can be made solely on the ground of going comprehensive.

Sir E. Boyle

Has not the Secretary of State stated explicitly in the House that where there is already a sufficiency of secondary accommodation, from the point of view of numbers, comprehensive proposals are not to have priority over primary school improvements?

Mr. Redhead

That is the implication of what I have just said by reference to the Circular.