HC Deb 09 November 1966 vol 735 cc1301-2
30. Mr. Galbraith

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what account he takes of the views of local authorities in planning to meet future educational needs.

Mr. Millan

Responsibility for planning to meet the future educational needs of different areas lies primarily with the education authorities concerned and my right hon. Friend considers their individual proposals very carefully in fulfilling his own statutory responsibilities.

Mr. Galbraith

If that is so, can the hon. Gentleman explain why, when Renfrew County proposed a partial two-tier system for the county, because of the conditions in the county and because it was in the interests of education there, the Secretary of State refused to give his permission? If he is going to brush aside the wishes of local authorities and local people in this way, why should they pay any of the cost of education at all?

Mr. Millan

There is no question of brushing aside the wishes of local education authorities. As I have said, the Secretary of State also has certain statutory responsibilities. He has asked the Renfrewshire authority to look again at its proposals, because he does not think they provide the best system of comprehensive education there. I am very glad to say that the authority is looking again at its proposals and is to supply us with amended proposals in due course.

Mr. Maclennan

Will my hon. Friend bear in mind, when he is considering the proposals from local authorities for the reorganisation of education on comprehensive lines, the necessity to take into account considerations of future industrial and other development in the area as well as purely educational needs?

Mr. Millan

Certainly, and we have asked the Highlands and Islands Development Board to give us a report about the Highland area specifically from that point of view, as well as from the educational point of view.

Mr. MacArthur

Why is the Secretary of State insisting on a straight-through comprehensive system for Renfrewshire? Is he not usurping the rights of the education authority to determine the shape of its own local education and thus flying right in the face of the consultative terms of Circular 600?

Mr. Millan

No; my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is not insisting on an all-through comprehensive system for Renfrewshire. In fact, in a part of the county where the two-tier system has been proposed it has already been agreed, but there are other parts of the county where an all-through comprehensive system would be, in the Secretary of State's view, a much more preferable system, and that is what is now being considered.

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