HC Deb 09 March 1972 vol 832 cc1632-3
11. Mr. John E. B. Hill

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what guidance she is giving to existing local education authorities to ensure that the planning and execution of school building programmes continues smoothly through the reorganisation of local government.

Mrs. Thatcher

I share my hon. Friend's concern that educational building programmes should continue smoothly through the reorganisation period. This is essentially a matter for co-operation between the existing authorities and their successors, but my Department is available for discussions on the problems involved and will give any help it call.

Mr. Hill

I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. What arrangements are likely to be made for apportioning the existing forward building programme, especially where the boundaries of the new local education authorities may cut across existing boundaries and where the question of division may arise? In the meantime, are there any particular points to which local authorities and local education committees should have regard?

Mrs. Thatcher

Proposals for building programmes are made by the existing authorities, and any approvals given in respect of a particular school would carry over to the new authorities.

Mr. Edward Short

Is the right hon. Lady aware of the acute problems in the West Riding of Yorkshire, which is being completely fragmented by the Government's proposals? Is she further aware that, understandably, a number of key staff have already obtained new positions elsewhere and that if this trend continues the building programme in the West Riding may come to a complete halt?

Mrs. Thatcher

I have had a number of letters about the position of the West Riding, not all of which agree with each other. Indeed, some of the county boroughs in the West Riding disagree with some of the contentions made by West Riding. I feel that we have been generous to the West Riding in our building programme as the right hon. Gentleman has admitted, bearing in mind the considerable problems in the area. I am anxious that these building programmes should be carried out.