HC Deb 15 May 1973 vol 856 cc1216-7
5. Mr. Meacher

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will seek to ascertain how many secondary schools now retain a selective method of entry; and what proportion of the total this is.

The Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. Norman St. John-Stevas)

No, Sir. This could not be done without a special inquiry in respect of every secondary school. The statistics for the different types of secondary school may be some guide and I will, with permission, circulate them in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Meacher

Is it not true that the Secretary of State has used every legal stratagem in the book, often on the flimsiest of pretexts, many of which she has engineered herself, to keep open the maximum number of selective schools? Is the Under-Secretary aware that 64 per cent. of 11-year-olds still undergo 11-plus selection? Does he seriously believe that this is what local opinion really wants?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

My right hon. Friend has given effect to the Government's policies, which are based on allowing local authorities full freedom of choice. The 64 per cent. figure given by the hon. Gentleman is out of date. That was the 1971 figure. The figure has now dropped to 60.6 per cent.

Mr. Hattersley

The hon. Gentleman said that the policy was based on giving local authorities "full freedom of choice." Is the Birmingham local authority to be allowed full freedom of choice with the scheme that it submitted five months ago?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

The Government's policy is determined by giving the local authorities maximum freedom of choice. [Interruption.] That is certainly in accordance with Government policy. This makes a most welcome change from the universal compulsory comprehensive schools which the Labour Government attempted to impose upon the country.

Following is the information:

Number Per cent.
Comprehensive 1,591 32
Grammar 893 18
Modern 2,218 44
Technical 58 1
Other 266 5
Total 5,026 100