HC Deb 19 October 1966 vol 734 cc204-5
31. Mr. Edward M. Taylor

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what was the value of all school building projects in Scotland approved in the year 1965; what was the average total of approvals for the previous four years; and if he will give comparable figures in respect of approvals for secondary schools only.

Mr. Ross

For all school building, the figures are £10.2 million for 1965 and £19.7 million on average for the previous four years. For secondary schools, the figures are £3.8 million and £12.8 million, respectively.

Mr. Taylor

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that that means that approvals last year were the lowest for 10 years, and that for secondary schools amounts to one-quarter of the figure for 1962? How can he possibly justify his statement that the slump in school building was due to the failure of local authorities?

Mr. Ross

The hon. Gentleman will appreciate that there was no slump in school building. In terms of work done, and in terms of schools completed, last year was better than anything for the average of the past four years. Approval means approval of sketch plans and costs. This has to be followed by a year's work in preparing plans, and so on, before one even gets to the point of starting. In 1964 the previous Administration announced the raising of the school-leaving age. I did not help by saying something about comprehensive schools. This has its effect on comprehensive schools and the plans for them. That is the real reason for it.

Mr. Speaker

Order. Answers must be short.

Mr. Monro

Can the right hon. Gentleman say how local authorities will be ready to raise the school-leaving age in September, 1970, if he will not accelerate permission to begin building now?

Mr. Ross

I am presently accelerating permission to begin building. The figure for the last financial year was £17 million. This year it is £20 million, and next year it will be £26 million.

Mr. Taylor

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of that reply, I beg to give notice that I shall seek to raise the matter on the Adjournment at the earliest possible opportunity.

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