HC Deb 15 May 1973 vol 856 cc1228-9
12. Mr. Madel

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether she is satisfied with the current programme of primary school replacements; and if she will make a statement.

Mrs. Thatcher

Programmes for the four years 1972–76 include provision for the replacement or improvement of about 2,000 old primary schools at a cost of about £200 million at 1972 prices.

Mr. Madel

Will my right hon. Friend look at Bedfordshire's primary school replacement programme in detail, as the rise in the county's population is such that we are not keeping pace with primary school needs there? Will my right hon. Friend see whether she can get the county to accelerate its programme dramatically?

Mrs. Thatcher

I am always prepared to look at individual programmes. Regarding the replacement of primary school programmes, when the four programmes have been completed Bedfordshire will be over half way towards the replacement or improvement of its pre-1903 accommodation for primary pupils. That is well up to the national standard. But I shall have a further look at this matter today in view of my hon. Friend's representations.

Miss Lestor

The right hon. Lady was asked whether she was satisfied with the primary school replacement programme. Will she say, in view of what she has said about the programme, how long she considers that it will take to replace the 300 pre-1903 primary schools in use in the Inner London Education Authority areas?

Mrs. Thatcher

I cannot. When I first came to consider the programme I thought that the last Government had left me only 3,000 last-century primary schools. By the time the programme had really got under way we discovered that the problem was even larger than we thought. In fact, there were between 6,000 and 7,000 such schools. That only shows how right the Government were to concentrate on replacing old primary schools.