HC Deb 03 November 1966 vol 735 cc641-2
22. Mr. Molloy

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will consider making supplementary grants for school construction to those local education authorities who are endeavouring to bring about comprehensive education but are faced with difficulties in relation to existing school buildings.

Mr. Crosland

I cannot make capital resources available solely for the purpose of secondary reorganisation, but out of the £48 million worth of secondary projects included in next year's programme about 150, worth nearly £31 million, will in practice assist reorganisation schemes.

Mr. Molloy

While I am very grateful for that reply, would my right hon. Friend acknowledge that many local authorities, including the London Borough of Ealing, wish to press on with the principle of comprehensive education but are frustrated because of ancient school lay-out? Is he aware that sometimes a little financial help in this direction would enable the authorities to speed up the implementation of the principle?

Mr. Crosland

I realise that a number of authorities, including that of my hon. Friend, are restricted by the existence of schools built some time ago. I would like my hon. Friend to bear in mind that in practice, if we were to give money solely for the purpose of reorganisation, that would be money at the expense of the programme of replacing and improving slum schools, especially primary schools. Put like that, I am sure that my hon. Friend would agree that our present priorities are the right ones.

Sir E. Boyle

But would the right hon. Gentleman not agree that a satisfactory scheme of secondary reorganisation, where there are existing school buildings, must frequently involve the expenditure of a good deal of money. And in view of the prospective severe pressure on financial resources for education and of the very just claims of old primary schools for their share, is it not clear that comprehensive education should not be rapidly and universally imposed?

Mr. Crosland

I have already made it clear what my priority is over slum primary schools. It should be borne in mind, when dealing with comprehensive reorganisation, that although I cannot make money specially and solely available to aid it without increasing the entire secondary school-building programme, money for other reasons, raising the school-leaving age, for example, can be used to facilitate reorganisation.

Mr. Robert Cooke

Would the Minister undertake not to penalise those authorities who find themselves unable to fall in with his comprehensive plan?

Mr. Crosland

If the hon. Member will make it clear what he means by cannot fall in with this plan, I would be prepared to give him an answer. There is a difference between cannot and will not.

Mr. Armstrong

Would my right hon. Friend bear in mind that there are many pupils who are suffering great inequality and missing opportunities and will continue to do so until selection is abolished? Will he press on with the implementation of the comprehensive principle?

Forward to