HC Deb 05 March 1970 vol 797 cc600-2
9 and 10. Mr. Milne

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science (1) if he will issue further advice to local education authorities in regard to the letting of school premises to outside organisations with a view to facilitating the use of school buildings during out-of-school hours;

(2) if he will issue a circular advising local education authorities in the building of new schools to include facilities for community association activities and other associated matters.

Miss Lestor

The letting of school premises to outside organisations is within the discretion of local education authorities and the governors and managers of individual schools who are in the best position to judge the needs of local communities. The Department sent a circular last month to local education authorities urging the use of schools for community activities. I am sending a copy to my hon. Friend.

Mr. Milne

Is my hon. Friend aware that I already have a copy of the circular? Is she aware that in linking these two Questions she was linking two problems which are not directly related? On the question of the use of schools it is imperative that the furnishings of schools should be suitable for adult audiences. Many primary schools are not suitable for those purposes. Will my hon. Friend look at the question of school furnishings in this regard because I am certain that at very little expense primary schools could be made suitable for adult gatherings and audiences? My hon. Friend will agree that the circular is very complicated. [HON. MEMBERS: "Too long."] Hon. Members opposite say that my question is too long, but it is a supplementary question on two Questions.

Mr. Speaker

Supplementary questions should still be brief.

Miss Lestor

On the first point about the dual use of school furniture, of course it is desirable that the furniture should be used also for education of adults, but the priority should be to make it suitable for children. There is a point here and if it is possible it should have a dual use, but this must be the first consideration. I should not have thought that the circular was unduly long considering the nature of the material with which it deals.

Mr. Kenneth Lewis

Does the hon. Lady agree that it will not be the first time that my constituents have sat at children's desks for a General Election meeting? Will she also take into account that the most important parts of school premises which advantageously can be made available to the public are playing fields and that some of those playing fields are completely wasted during holidays? Will she press this on local authorities?

Miss Lestor

I certainly agree that playing fields should be used as much as possible for schools and for activities outside schools. That is very important, but also the use of school buildings must be encouraged for dual—if not more—use.

Forward to