HC Deb 14 December 1972 vol 848 cc611-2
30. Mr. Edwin Wainwright

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will give the estimated amount of money to be spent on subnormal children during the current financial year, and the estimated figures over each of the next three years.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

My right hon. Friend estimates that current expenditure on special schools in England is £61 million this year and will be £68 million, £73 million, and £78 million, respectively, in the next three. Separate information is not collected about expenditure on the various categories of handicapped pupils.

Mr. Wainwright

Does not the hon. Gentleman think that it is rather disgraceful to rely upon the parents of subnormal children to have them educated? Does he take into consideration the responsibility of parents to make certain that these children lead a decent life? When the parents pass away, will these children be left to fend for themselves, or will the State accept responsibility for them? They would stand a much better chance if the education system were better able to provide for them.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

I agree with the hon. Gentleman, and I share his great concern about the future of these children. We are, fortunately, able to accelerate the special school building programme. Building starts will rise from £11 million in 1972–73 to £19 million in 1976–77. The precise allocation for each category of handicap has not been decided upon, but a high priority will be given to the needs of all educationally subnormal children, including the severely handicapped.

Mr. Burden

Has my hon. Friend seen the correspondence that I have addressed to his Department about the conditions at a school in Kent in which sub-normal children are educated? The conditions are squalid and appalling. I hope that my hon. Friend will pay great regard to the pressure upon the Department to ensure that custom-built schools, or at least really adequate schools, are made available to these subnormal children.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

The answer to my hon. Friend's general question is that we are keeping the matter under constant review. I shall personally look into the case of the school that he mentioned.