HC Deb 15 June 1972 vol 838 c1712
17. Mr. Ashton

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether she will state the latest estimates of percentage increased costs for school building.

Mrs. Thatcher

School building cost variations are reflected in periodic changes in cost limits, which have been increased by about 43 per cent. since 1967.

Mr. Ashton

Why will the Minister not give the answer for the last 12 months? Is it not a fact that house building costs have gone up by 22 per cent. due to the rise in the price of land and building costs? Has not the price of school building gone up by much the same proportion? Does she intend to cut back on standards if the cost of school building goes up as much as the cost of housing?

Mrs. Thatcher

If the hon. Gentleman wants the figures for the last 12 to 14 months he may have them. In April, 1971, I increased the cost limits by 13 per cent. In April, 1972, I increased the limits by a further 15 per cent. School building has to take place within the cost limits.

Mr. Spearing

Would the right hon. Lady agree that as this has to be within the cost limits it is right that extra costs should be allowed where building costs are highest, such as in London? Would she reconsider that point?

Mrs. Thatcher

No. Our evidence is that there are certain schools in rural areas, for which the materials have to be transported a long way, where the costs are every bit as high as in the central city areas. Where particular casts are involved because of the difficulties of the site, special arrangements are already made.