HC Deb 26 June 1973 vol 858 cc1310-1
21. Mr. Thomas Cox

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science when she last met the Chairman of the Metropolitan Architectural Consortium for Education.

Mrs. Thatcher

I have not met the chairman in that capacity.

Mr. Cox

Is the right hon. Lady aware of the very deep concern which the chairman has expressed over the cuts in the school cost limits? As something has to suffer when forcible costs are cut, does not the right hon. Lady agree that she has some obligation to say what she thinks should be cut? For example, does she think that classroom space, staff facilities and the quality of materials ought to be cut? Surely she has some obligation and it is her duty to give a lead in such a matter.

Mrs. Thatcher

Not merely have I given a lead, but I have increased the cost limits by 22 per cent., making an increase in total since I took office of some 58 per cent. Even before the latest increase in the cost limits, 97.6 per cent. of the projects last year were actually started.

Mr. Hattersley

The right hon. Lady has received a letter from the chairman, written after the 22 per cent. cost increase was announced, which is described as inadequate. How did the right hon. Lady reply?

Mrs. Thatcher

The letter was acknowledged. The chairman sent me a copy letter which I understand she had sent to other people, and naturally I acknowledged it.

Mr. Spearing

Will the right hon. Lady confirm that in her letter she stated that she had nothing to add to what she had said in the debate? In view of my earlier question, will the right hon. Lady now agree to see a deputation from the Metropolitan Architectural Consortium for Education to discuss this matter?

Mrs. Thatcher

No. I agreed earlier to receive the hon. Gentleman, and that I will do. I think that he will have plenty to say.

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