HC Deb 13 July 1972 vol 840 cc1824-6
10. Mr. Raphael Tack

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science why, in each of the 70 decisions she has made to veto proposals for comprehensive schools under Section 13(a) of the Education Act, 1944, as amended, her consideration of all the relevant factors including local objections led to the conclusion that the proposals would not be in the best interests of the pupils concerned.

Mrs. Thatcher

The proposals did not fully meet the main criteria for approval.

Mr. Tuck

The right hon. Lady has dodged this Question from me on four occasions. The first three were Written Questions; now we are face to face. Could the real reason for her vetoing the 1970 proposals be that the school buildings were not adequate and that she is dodging the question in order to hide the fact that the Government are unwilling to provide money to improve old secondary school buildings? If that is not the reason, why is the right hon. Lady deftly ducking the question?

Mrs. Thatcher

Where school buildings are not adequate for the reorganisation proposed, that has usually been set out in the reply to the proposals of the local education authority. No Government have yet given a specific grant for secondary reorganisation. The capital expenditure on secondary schools in my first four-year programme will be about £400 million.

Miss Lestor

Does the Secretary of State agree that it would be a great help if she would set out the educational reasons why the scheme was turned down?

Mrs. Thatcher

I am not aware what the hon. Lady means when she refers to one particular scheme. The reasons are usually set out in the reply to the proposals from the local education authority.

16. Mr. Molloy

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what aid she intends to give the London Borough of Ealing in its endeavour to produce a viable comprehensive education system.

Mrs. Thatcher

Under successive Governments no capital resources have been available specifically for reorganisation but the authority's normal allocations including those for raising the school leaving age have been substantial.

Mr. Molloy

That reply does not exactly square with some of the comments the Conservative Party was making before the election about the wonderful things it would do and how much money it would allocate. Is the right hon. Lady aware that under the admirable leadership of the chairman of the education committee in Ealing the councillors have worked very hard indeed to produce a scheme which has support on both sides of the council and that a little help from her now could produce a viable scheme? Will she see a deputation which would explain their difficulties to her?

Mrs. Thatcher

I have before me Section 13 notices from Ealing about the scheme. Enormous allocations have been made for primary schools and for raising the school leaving age, and no other Government have succeeded in doing that. The Labour Government made the allocation and we found the money.