HC Deb 21 December 1972 vol 848 cc1561-2
19. Mr. Adam Butler

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will revise the minor works allocations for 1973–74, in the light of the fact that many local education authorities, with the authorisation of her Department, have brought forward into 1972–73 much of their allocations for that year: and if she will make a statement.

Mrs. Thatcher

Minor works allocations for 1972–74, at £92 million, are already 20 per cent. greater in real terms than in the previous two years. I am, however, increasing the allocations of some local education authorities to meet local shortages of primary school places.

Mr. Butler

I welcome that announcement, because I know that it affects the county of Leicestershire among others and is evidence of the Government's attitude towards education expenditure. But is my right hon. Friend aware that the £50,000 which she has allocated to Leicestershire is the equivalent of only one primary school project and that, due to the population growth in that county, the greatest part of next year's allocation will go to mobile classrooms, to the detriment of primary school replacement and modernisation?

Mrs. Thatcher

We are very much aware that counties like Leicestershire have had great problems because they have been taking many children who have moved out from city centres. This is one reason which has led us to increase the allocation. The total increase, I am happy to inform my hon. Friend, will be £2.5 million in England and Wales. We will be informing the local education authorities shortly of their share.

Mr. Hattersley

Has the right hon. Lady recently had replies from local authorities about what they describe as the "flexible use" of the minor works programme? Does she contemplate returning to what seems to me the sensible process of allowing the minor works programme to be used for certain improvements in old schools?

Mrs. Thatcher

The minor works programmes are completely flexible. The local education authorities can use them as they wish; I have no control over how they use the minor works programmes. The flexibility to which the right hon. Gentleman is referring is between the minor works and the capital major programmes, which is a different matter.