HC Deb 03 November 1966 vol 735 cc648-9
30. Mr. Winnick

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what plans have now been submitted by the London Borough of Croydon for the reorganisation of secondary education.

Mr. Crosland

On 6th October the authority informed my Department of its proposal to establish what are described as three comprehensive units by the amalgamation of pairs of schools. But the authority's letter implies that selection at 11-plus would continue and it does not on the face of it constitute a plan as requested in Circular 10/65. I have therefore asked it whether it wishes it to be treated as such and also to supply further information.

Mr. Winnick

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the latest scheme is considered to be a sham scheme which in no way complies with Circular 10/65? Would he consider asking the council to meet him to try to knock some sense into it? Is he further aware that there is a great deal of concern and anxiety among parents in Croydon over the stalling of the Tory-controlled Croydon council?

Mr. Crosland

I do not want to get involved in fisticuffs with the Croydon council. But, as I have said to my hon. Friend, we have asked it to amplify what was said in its letter. If we find in practice that the scheme is not a proper comprehensive scheme, as certainly appears at first sight, we shall have to consider what further action should be taken.

Mr. Frederic Harris

Would not the Minister agree that it would be utterly wrong for the Ministry to try to steamroller the Croydon Education Authority, which is very progressive, merely because, apart from other things, it cannot even adapt its buildings because of the limitation of finance? Will the right hon. Gentleman not listen to the irresponsible comments of the hon. Member for Croydon, South (Mr. Winnick)?

Mr. Crosland

It is not a question of trying to steamroller the Croydon Education Authority. It may, however, be a question of trying to persuade it of what the rest of the country can now see, namely, the evils of the 11-plus.