HC Deb 20 April 1967 vol 745 cc794-5
29. Sir E. Boyle

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what proportion of the primary school projects included in the major school building programmes for each of the years 1967–68 and 1968–69 are for replacing and improving sub-standard buildings.

Mr. Crosland

Twenty-nine per cent. of the primary school resources in the 1967–68 programme were devoted to the replacement of old buildings. I expect the comparable figure for 1968–69 to be 22 per cent. The reduction in the proportion is due basically to the decision taken in 1964 to raise the school leaving age. But, of course, these proportions are highly misleading since the whole of the building programme contributes to the improvement of our stock of school buildings.

Sir E. Boyle

None the less, is it not somewhat disappointing that the proportion should fall, in view of the fact that the primary school population is rising in these years at the rate of 150,000 a year? Is the Minister aware that, on his own figures, the amount of money devoted to primary improvements in 1968–69 is slightly less than in 1965–66? Is not that disappointing?

Mr. Crosland

Yes, but it has to be remembered that a large part of the school building programme will take account of the raising of the school leaving age and also that a far higher proportion of the programme is going to primary schools than was the case in the last few years of office of the party opposite. One would like to do more for them, but I do not think that this provision is unreasonable.