HC Deb 10 June 1971 vol 818 c1215
14. Mr. Hardy

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is now the minimum size of population used as a criterion for an effective education authority in England.

Mrs. Thatcher

No absolute minimum has ever been set for this purpose.

Mr. Hardy

While I thank the right hon. Lady for that comment, and for the correspondence I have recently received, does she agree that an authority with a population of 250,000 may be unable to provide certain education services at an effective level, notably, perhaps, advisory services and further education? If so, will she take steps to encourage and induce metropolitan district authorities to co-operate to establish those services on a metropolitan county basis?

Mrs. Thatcher

I do not agree that there is any minimum size. The Maud Committee said that there was no straightforward correlation of efficiency with size. There are some small education authorities below the size of 250,000 which are very good, although I know some of the arguments which have been advanced in the hon. Gentleman's area.

Mr. Edward Short

Will the right hon. Lady tell us her view about the tier which should have responsibility for education in the metropolitan counties?

Mrs. Thatcher

My views have been expressed in the White Paper.