HC Deb 26 May 1966 vol 729 cc709-11
30. Mr. Arnold Shaw

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what time limit he has set for the submission of plans by local authorities to end selection at 11-plus for schools.

Mr. Crosland

12th July this year.

Mr. Shaw

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, owing to uncertainty in the minds of certain local authorities, some have been encouraged to refuse or have indicated their unwillingness to end selec- tion at 11-plus or, in other cases, to postpone it indefinitely?

Mr. Crosland

As I said in answer to an earlier Question, only two authorities have informed me that they do not propose to submit plans. I still think that what is remarkable is how small this number is and how high a level of cooperation we are achieving with the great majority of local authorities.

Mr. J. E. B. Hill

Is not the question of a time limit in this respect a matter of request? It is a year after the date of the official circular and there is no statutory or legal force in the limit. Are not some local authorities bound to take longer because the nature of their problems is more complex than those of some other local education authorities?

Mr. Crosland

Certainly, that would be the case in some areas. As I think the hon. Gentleman knows, we have allowed six authorities an extension of time. Where some genuine case is put to us between now and 12th July, we shall, of course, consider it on its merits.

Mr. Heffer

Does my right hon. Friend not agree that the key to the question is precisely the application of more money for the building of comprehensive schools—

Mr. Speaker

Order. This is a Question about the time limit. Supplementary questions must be related to the original Question.

Mr. Heffer

But it is related, because I am relating it to the time limit. There cannot be a time limit if there is no understanding of when the schools will be built to carry out the job.

Mr. Crosland

I have answered that Question already. I do not know whether my hon. Friend was in the Chamber—[HON. MEMBERS: "He was."] He was. I have pointed out that, of course, a considerable part of the enormous school building programme which we authorised is capable of adaptation to comprehensive reorganisation, and that any additional special allocation on top of that could only be at the expense of the improvement and replacement of primary schools. I must insist that, apart from roofs over heads, primary schools ought to have priority in the building programme.