HC Deb 17 April 1969 vol 781 cc1307-9
9. Mr. Ian Lloyd

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many local education authorities have been refused allocations for secondary school building in 1969–70 on the grounds that projects submitted did not fit into a comprehensive pattern.

24. Mr. Christopher Price

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science from how many local authorities he has now deferred allocations for secondary school building on the grounds that they are not consistent with the principles laid down in Circular Number 10/65.

Miss Bacon

For the 1969–70 programme my right hon. Friend deferred secondary projects for eight authorities pending clarification of their intentions towards reorganisation on comprehensive lines. For four of these he has since authorised projects which are compatible with a comprehensive pattern. He is still considering a reorganisation plan submitted by a fifth. For the 1970–71 programme he has recently taken similar action with 14 more authorities.

Mr. Lloyd

Would it not be wholly accurate and justifiable to describe this consequence as a somewhat narrow doctrinaire interpretation of educational need and, perhaps more important, as a backlash of four years' serious fiscal mismanagement of the economy?

Miss Bacon

Local authorities have known for some time, since the issue of Circular 10/65, that they must submit building programmes compatible with secondary reorganisation. This has not suddenly been thrown at local authorities without their prior knowledge.

Mr. Molloy

What is my right hon. Friend's attitude to those projects which are submitted, as in the case of the London Borough of Ealing, which would wantonly destroy a Walpole grammar school merely to frustrate a later endeavour and a gradual approach to the comprehensive system?

Miss Bacon

My right hon. Friend has that matter under consideration, so it would not be proper for me to comment on it.

Sir E. Boyle

How many projects for urgently needed new school places have been turned down, not because the projects infringed the policy of either side of the House, but because the local authorities concerned had not submitted proposals for reorganising their existing schools?

Miss Bacon

I could not give that answer without notice, because there will be a difference of opinion about what were urgently required projects. But, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, for some time we have been asking that projects should be compatible with secondary reorganisation. In one or two cases we have allowed local authorities to build comprehensive schools, even where they have not submitted a secondary reorganisation plan to us. The right hon. Gentleman knows that some secondary projects have been allowed in the City of Birmingham, even though the Birmingham authority had not submitted an overall plan.