HC Deb 27 June 1968 vol 767 cc801-2
24. Mr. J. E. B. Hill

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science when he will now announce details of the revised major school building programme for 1968–69.

Mr. Edward Short

I did so last week.

Mr. Hill

Having studied the programme since this Question was put down, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the cuts are not so severe that they will not only jeopardise any question of reorganisation for many local authorities but will probably put in jeopardy the policy of roofs over head? What is his policy to meet that difficulty?

Mr. Short

I do not think that there is any possibility of any authority in the country not being able to provide roofs overhead. As I have said, the total overall building programme is roughly the same as last year. All that has happened is that the money which was being made available for raising the school leaving age has been deferred.

Sir E. Boyle

Is it not the case that anyone reading Circular 6/68 imagines that £88 million of new projects will be allocated this year, irrespective of the value of earlier projects under earlier programmes starting before first April? Is not the decision that only £56 million worth of new projects will be allocated this year causing very widespread dismay among local education authorities?

Mr. Short

The right hon. Gentleman is one of the few people who understand the school building programme, and he understands it well. The total programme this year is £129 million, which is a lot of money. In addition, there is a vast amount of building being done. The inner London building programme, for example, is not £1.5 million, as I saw stated in an evening paper last week, but £5.6 million this year. At the moment, over £12 million of educational building work is being done in London. We have to get this into perspective.

Mr. Astor

In view of the inadequacy of the major building programme, would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that it is essential that there should be full use of the facilities available at independent schools? Will he not, therefore, reverse recent Government policies which have been making it increasingly difficult for parents to afford school fees?

Mr. Short

Of course we should like to make use of the facilities of independent schools. If the hon. Gentleman will use his influence with them, we shall be delighted to integrate them into the national system.

Mr. Pardoe

Those of us who advocated the setting back of the school leaving age programme did so because we wanted the money spent on primary schools. Does the right hon. Gentleman not agree that the money being spent on them nothing like measures up to the recommendations of the Plowden Report?

Mr. Short

Money spent on education is never anywhere near what the enthusiasts would like to spend, but people involved in education, like everyone else, must learn to live within their income.