HC Deb 16 June 1966 vol 729 cc1627-9
5. Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will now withdraw Circular 10/66 on school building programmes.

The Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. Anthony Crosland)

No, Sir.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Does the latter part of paragraph 5 of the circular mean that, where a local education authority's plans for secondary education do not coincide with the right hon. Gentleman's ideas on comprehensives, no building of secondary schools will be authorised however acute the overcrowding or the shortage?

Mr. Crosland

The Government's policy is perfectly clear. It is that the country should go comprehensive. It would be very foolish and uneconomical, that being so, not to make it plain to local authorities and to encourage them to build schools which were inconsistent with such a pattern.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Does the right hon. Gentleman mean that he intends to use financial pressure to override the wishes of locally elected local education authorities?

Mr. Crosland

As for pressure on local authorities, the right hon. Gentleman might consult some of his ex-colleagues. Many Labour authorities have bitter memories of the treatment they suffered at the hands of Miss Horsbrugh and Sir David Eccles, as they then were. It is the Government's policy to go comprehensive. This being so, it seems logical and sensible that we should make clear that, when considering building plans, this is our policy.

Sir E. Boyle

Quite apart from the point made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter), will the Minister bear in mind the very real anxiety among many local authorities that this circular will hold up school building and cause delay in very much needed school building plans?

Mr. Crosland

I do not believe that this anxiety is widespread. We have had no representations from any local authorities on this circular at all.

Mr. Freeson

Will my right hon. Friend accept that there are some local authorities, including my own, which are benefiting as a result of action taken under this circular in having their capital works programmes increased so that existing out-of-date school buildings can be immensely improved?