HC Deb 21 January 1970 vol 794 cc485-8
6. Mr. Monro

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what progress he has made towards providing adequate classroom accommodation by the time the school-leaving age is raised in 1972.

Mr. Millan

Substantial progress has already been made, and my right hon. Friend has asked education authorities to let him know what further projects they consider would be required up to March, 1972. He is at present studying the information which they have provided.

Mr. Monro

Is the Minister aware that the drop in approvals and starts for school-building in 1969 was serious? Will he also agree that the provision of secondary school accommodation must not be at the expense of primary schools between now and 1972?

Mr. Millan

There is a later Question about approvals and starts, but I am sure that the hon. Member will be delighted to know that to the end of November, 1969, secondary completions were two and a half times as great as the 1968 figure.

31. Mr. W. H. K. Baker

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will now announce the allocation of funds for school building for the second half of the period 1970 to 1972.

Mr. Milan

My right hon. Friend is not yet ready to notify education authorities of their allocations but hopes to do so soon.

Mr. Baker

Will the hon. Gentleman give us a categorical assurance that when the allocation takes place, in view of the urgent necessity for funds in Banffshire, the case of Banffshire will be carefully considered?

Mr. Milian

Certainly I shall be looking at the problems of Banffshire and also those of other areas.

Mr. MacArthur

Is the hon. Gentleman aware of the concern in Banff and other areas of Scotland that the forthcoming allocations may not be sufficient to meet local educational needs? Will the allocations enable local authorities to be ready for the raising of the school-leaving age in 1972?

Mr. Milan

Yes, I can give that assurance.

35. Mr. MacArthur

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what was the value of secondary school building projects approved and started, respectively, between 1st January, 1969 and the latest dae for which figures are available; and what were the comparable figures for 1968.

Mr. Milan

£13.75 million and £18.15 million respectively in the first eleven months of 1969. The figures for the corresponding period in 1968 were £26.51 million and £20.88 million.

Mr. MacArthur

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that these serious figures show that we must now expect a sharp fall in the rate of completions? How can this reduced rate of school building enable local education authorities to be ready for the raising of the school-leaving age in 1972?

Mr. Milan

I do not accept the hon. Gentleman's interpretation at all. I explained as far back as 3rd July, 1969, that, after the extremely high rates of approvals and starts up to the year 1969 and for the previous year, it was to be expected that the numbers of approvals and starts would be reduced somewhat over the next succeeding period, the reason being that, very sensibly, the main bulk of approvals and starts for the meeting of the raising of the school-leaving age has already been given to local authorities so that the accommodation will be ready in good time. No doubt the hon. Gentleman will be glad to know that in secondary schools, whereas in the period January to November, 1968, the amount of completions was £7.11 million, in the period January to November, 1969, the amount of completions was £18.43 million—more than two and half times as much.

Mr. Lawson

As possibly a better means of comparison, will my hon. Friend tell us how much in value school building work is at present in being and how that compares with the previous year?

Mr. Milan

I cannot answer that offhand, but the value of work currently in progress is very, very high.

18. Mr. Clark Hutchison

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what discussions he has held recently with Edinburgh Corporation about school-building in the city.

Mr. Milan

My right hon. Friend has received proposals from the education authority for the period 1970–72 and has them under consideration. If discussions prove necesary, they will, of course, be arranged.

Mr. Clark-Hutchison

Does the Minister realise that many of the older schools on the south side could be greatly improved with very little extra expenditure? Will he look at that point first? Secondly, does he know that the Darroch School which caters for children from Central Edinburgh and South Edinburgh is old and unsuitable, and will he press the corporation for a new school on the south side to cater for those children?

Mr. Millan

Proposals in the first instance should come from the corporation and not from me, but I shall certainly be taking into account the needs of Edinburgh of the kind the hon. Gentleman has described, and others, in the formulation of the programme in the second part of the 1970–72 period.