HC Deb 30 January 1969 vol 776 cc1509-10
24. Mrs. Renée Short

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what reply he has sent to the Wolver-hampton Education Committee about its proposals for the reorganisation of secondary education.

Mr. Edward Short

I have told the authority that, although the proposed long-term pattern of all-through comprehensive schools is satisfactory in principle, I cannot regard the plan, as a whole, as a fully adequate response to Circular 10/65 because it involves the prolonged retention of a degree of selection and assumes far more replacement building than is likely to be available. I have, therefore, asked the authority to reconsider these aspects of its scheme.

Mrs. Short

Is my right hon. Friend aware that since the authority received his second letter a statement has been made by the chairman of the education committee to the effect that the authority is willing to have a head-on clash with the Government over this, which means, in effect, a declaration of war against the Government? Is he further aware that it has been suggested that if the authority does not get its way over the secondary reorganisation scheme, it intends to use some of the money allocated in this hard-won fight to get nursery classes in the area and to build the secondary schools which are likely to be affected by the refusal of the scheme? Will my right hon. Friend take urgent action on this issue?

Mr. Short

The only report that I have seen is a cutting which I believe my hon. Friend sent to me some time ago. I have had no official word at all from the local authority about this matter and I therefore cannot comment on it. I would have thought that perhaps the most demonstrably true fact in contemporary politics is that the present Government do not shirk from head-on clashes with anybody.