HC Deb 13 February 1973 vol 850 cc1119-20
5. Mrs. Renée Short

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how much capital expenditure on secondary education is provided for in her White Paper; and what proportion of this will be spent in the West Midlands.

Mrs. Thatcher

The school building programmes for 1975–76 and 1976–77 will each be increased by £10 million for secondary school improvements in England and Wales. The allocation of these extra resources is under consideration.

Mrs. Short

Is the right hon. Lady aware that her hon. Friend the Under-Secretary, when he was in the Midlands before Christmas, said that the West Midlands would get the lion's share of that allocation of money? He obviously was talking off the top of his head again.

May I draw the right hon. Lady's attention to the fact that the West Midlands, and Wolverhampton in particular, is an educational priority area which has been denied any secondary school building capital investment since the right hon. Lady's Government took office? Therefore, there is a great deal of leeway to make up in replacing old secondary school buildings, Will the right hon. Lady see that her colleague's promise is carried out? We would be very grateful.

Mrs. Thatcher

Perhaps I might give an assurance that the West Midlands will gets its due and fair share of the moneys available.

Mr. Montgomery

May I add my plea to my right hon. Friend that the West Midlands should get its fair share for secondary school rebuilding? Will she underline to the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, North-West (Mrs. Renée Short) that this is in addition to the biggest primary school replacement programme of all time?

Mrs. Thatcher

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. It does, of course, come on top on an allocation of £50 million each year for the replacement of primary schools.

Mr. Hattersley

How many secondary schools does the right hon. Lady think £10 million will buy, and how many secondary schools need to be replaced? How does she relate those two figures with her announcement just now about a cut in the primary programme?

Mrs. Thatcher

We know of about 300 secondary schools that date from the last century. There are more if one takes into account the numbers that have quite an amount of temporary accommodation. I point out to the hon. Gentleman that the programme of £10 million compares very well with the last two secondary school improvement programmes which were left to me, one of which, upgraded to current values, would be £2.9 million a year and the other £2.3 million.

Mr. Spearing

Is the right hon. Lady aware that just before Christmas her hon. Friend the Under-Secretary said that London would get one rebuilding project in two years costing less than £1 million if it was lucky? Does she think that that allocation is very small relative to the need for the rebuilding of nineteenth century schools to which she has referred and other Government expenditure of a very high order not very far from where we are sitting?

Mrs. Thatcher

It is smaller than I would wish. It is the start of a rising programme. It is very much better than the last two programmes of the last Labour Government. It is up by almost four or five times.