HC Deb 27 June 1968 vol 767 cc786-7
5. Mr. John Lee

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will seek powers to ascertain the total value of properties owned by independent and direct-grant schools situated in England and Wales.

Mr. Edward Short

No, Sir.

Mr. Lee

Is not this the sort of useful information which ought to be gathered by the Government as a preliminary to the process of incorporating the so-called public schools into the genuinely public sector? Will not my right hon. Friend reconsider his rather negative answer?

Mr. Short

I have just reconstituted the Public Schools Commission and announced the names. The Commission will now start to look at the independent day schools and the direct grant schools. I have certain powers with regard to these schools, and I can ask them for any information which is relevant to those powers. At the moment, there is no case for extending that.

Sir G. Nabarro

Does the right hon. Gentleman recall that the Workers' Educational Association, submitting its evidence to the Newsom Committee, concluded that it would be utterly impractical in Britain in the foreseeable future to endeavour to abolish the independent fee-paying school?

Mr. Short

I shall be publishing the first report of the Public Schools Commission shortly, and the House can make up its own mind on that. As I have said, having now been reconstituted, the Commission is looking at the task of integrating the independent day schools and direct grant schools.

Sir E. Boyle

Could the right hon. Gentleman give a more precise date for when we may expect the report?

Mr. Short

Offhand, I cannot, but I shall let the right hon. Gentleman know.