HC Deb 08 July 1971 vol 820 cc1501-2
11. Mr. Dormand

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many local education authorities in England and Wales have not submitted schemes for the reorganisation of secondary education.

Mrs. Thatcher

Eight authorities have never submitted a scheme of reorganisation and nine whose plans were rejected before June, 1970, have not submitted revised plans.

Mr. Dormand

As there are 163 local education authorities, do not those figures demonstrate beyond all doubt that the vast majority of people concerned with education agree that comprehensive edu- cation is the most effective form of secondary education? Will the Secretary of State tell the House that the withdrawal of the Labour circular on comprehensive education a year ago, with such a fanfare of trumpets, has resulted in only two withdrawals in 12 months, and does not this demonstrate beyond all doubt that the Government's policy is an absolute sham and completely doctrinaire?

Mrs. Thatcher

As I have said to the hon. Gentleman before, the important factor is not the plan but the point at which the local education authority submits proposals for a change in the character of a school, when whoever is Secretary of State has to consider those proposals.

Mr. John Wells

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many parents are dissatisfied that reorganisation does not provide for single-sex education at secondary level?

Mrs. Thatcher

That is one of the factors I take into account when considering the proposals under Section 13. I am very much aware how strongly some parents feel on that point.

Mr. Edward Short

Will the right hon. Lady say what use it is for a local authority to submit a scheme under her Government when she messes them about in the disgraceful way she has followed with the Borough of Barnet in her own constituency, or by her almost certainly unlawful action under Section 68 in the case of the Rydens School in Surrey? What is the use of submitting a scheme now? Why does not the local authority simply submit a Section 13 notice straight away?

Mrs. Thatcher

I think the right hon. Gentleman must be mistaken. Barnet has submitted Section 13 notices. Decisions have been given on the Barnet Section 13 proposals, although I believe there is one outstanding. A number have been approved and a few have been disapproved, in the exercise of my statutory duty.