HC Deb 21 December 1972 vol 848 cc1543-4
1. Mr. Hardy

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is the average cost of providing a new secondary school, and the average cost of a secondary school place.

The Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mrs. Margaret Thatcher)

To build a typical school for 900 pupils aged 11 to 18 costs just over £600,000, at an average cost per place of about £675. This figure, like the £20 million for the improvement of old secondary schools announced in the recent White Paper, excludes land, fees and equipment, which together add about one-third to the cost.

Mr. Hardy

Does not that answer show that the proposed extra allocation of money for secondary school buildings will be woefully inadequate in the face of growing demand? Would it not be better to describe this proposal as gimmickry?

Mrs. Thatcher

Certainly not. £20 million is not gimmickry. Indeed, if it were, it compares very well with the last two programmes left to me by the Labour Government which consisted of under £3 million each year for secondary school improvements.

Mr. Spearing

Going back to the sum of £600, does the right hon. Lady agree that if that were paid back over the time at which a school was likely to exist the cost of providing places would be relatively small compared with the cost of providing total education for the pupils concerned over that period?

Mrs. Thatcher

Capital costs spread over a longer period are usually a lesser draw on the Exchequer than recurrent costs; but greater capital costs usually give rise to increased recurring capital costs, too.