HC Deb 19 October 1972 vol 843 cc423-4
1. Mr. Ashley

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many plans for comprehensive systems of education she has now received; and how many she has rejected.

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

I informed the House in April, 1971, that I had discontinued the practice of approving non-statutory plans for the re-organisation of secondary education; before then I had approved three plans and rejected none.

Mr. Ashley

The Minister may or may not be approving general plans. Is she aware that by refusing to sanction plans for specific schools she is sabotaging general plans? Will she therefore try to look at plans through a telescope rather than inspecting specific schools through a microscope?

Mrs. Thatcher

I have a legal duty to look at individual proposals under the Education Acts. The precise figures are that of 2,300 Section 13 proposals I have rejected only 92.

Mr. Edward Short

My hon. Friend's point is valid. The right hon. Lady has approved thousands of projects but in many cases, by deleting one proposal, she makes nonsense of the whole scheme. Perhaps I might quote Kidderminster as an example. Her decision there made nonsense of the whole area scheme.

Mrs. Thatcher

The hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ashley) may have a valid point, but the answer is equally valid. I have to carry out my duties under the terms of the section.