HC Deb 24 May 1972 vol 837 cc1430-2
23. Mr. MacArthur

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many children entered selective schools in Scotland last year; and how many places will be available this year.

Mr. Gordon Campbell

At September, 1971, 21,274 pupils were in selective classes at Stage S1 in education authority secondary schools. The corresponding figure for grant-aided selective secondary schools at January, 1971, was 2,165. These figures exclude pupils attending special schools. Information is not collected about the number of places which will be available next session at Stage S1 in these schools or in the schools as a whole.

Mr. MacArthur

Can my right hon. Friend assure the House that he will not allow any further obstruction to the intake this year? Is he satisfied that the local authority will make proper arrangements for this year's intake by 30th May? Will he remove the uncertainty of parents by making a further statement during the Whitsun Recess?

Mr. Campbell

My hon. Friend must be referring to Glasgow and certain schools there. I have served a default order, and the time of that order is still running.

Mr. James Hamilton

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us the number of children coming from outwith Glasgow to the Glasgow selective schools, and what the situation would be if they went to the schools in their own county, leaving places for the children in Glasgow?

Mr. Campbell

That is another question, and I could not answer it without notice.

Mr. Galbraith

I support what my hon. Friend the Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur) said, and urge my right hon. Friend to do everything he can to remove the uncertainty, which is having a very detrimental effect on the children and their parents in Glasgow.

Mr. Campbell

I am very much aware of what both my hon. Friends said. I have lost no time in taking the necessary procedures. The default order was served last week. It has a two-week period in which to run. I am very much aware of the anxiety of parents, and I made clear during recent weeks what I thought should be done.

Mr. William Hannan

Is it not scandalous that the Government should defy the expressed wishes of the citizens of Glasgow in respect of the schools in question? Since the Government pride themselves on giving freedom to local authorities, why is it that in this instance, in order to inflate the vanity, of a section in Glasgow and on the Government benches, and pander to their political outlook, the Secretary of State is determined to disobey the wishes of the electors of Glasgow?

Mr. Campbell

The hon. Gentleman has the two things mixed up. The default order concerns the Corporation's duty to implement its approved transfer scheme, which now exists. Its proposals which are still before me are a different matter, and are not the subject of a default order. On those, they have not carried out enough consultations. It was the last Government in their Circular 600 who advocated full consultations with parents on these matters.

Mr. Edward Taylor

Has there been any response from Glasgow to the default order? Is there any lessening of the uncertainty over the future position of St. Mungo's School? The Corporation's decision on this matter is holding up the building of the new school.

Mr. Campbell

In reply to my hon. Friend's first question, I do not know of any action yet, but it was only a week ago that the order was served. I note his point about St. Mungo's School, but I cannot answer it offhand.

Mr. Buchan

Surely the Secretary of State must realise, first, that his action is entirely in breach of all his pledges and those of his party's manifesto; secondly, that it is a denial of the will of the people of Glagsow; and, thirdly, that the most shocking aspect is that he has not chosen to make a statement on the Floor of the House so that the matter can be discussed.

Mr. Campbell

The hon. Gentleman has the situation completely muddled up. We have at Question Time already gone over these matters several times. The hon. Gentleman knows that the carrying out of an approved transfer scheme is a duty imposed on an authority in any case; quite apart from its proposals for the future, which have not yet been approved, it has a duty to carry that out, and it also has a duty to carry out full consultation before its long-term proposals can be approved.

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