HC Deb 25 June 1974 vol 875 cc1188-9
8. Mr. Stanley

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what representations he has received regarding his policy on secondary education.

Mr. Armstrong

I have received many representations about comprehensive reorganisation, both in general and concerning particular schools.

Mr. Stanley

Will the Minister clarify whether the Secretary of State's policy is the abolition of selection into secondary schools or whether it is the abolition of selection both into and within secondary schools?

Mr. Armstrong

The Government's policy is undoubtedly to abolish selection at all stages of the school system. The hon. Gentleman will know that the organisation within schools is not a matter for my right hon. Friend, although we are anxious that the selection and labelling of children will cease as quickly as possible.

Mr. R. C. Mitchell

May I take it from my hon. Friend's reply that the Government have no intention of altering streaming by law?

Mr. Armstrong

As my hon. Friend knows, I have strong views about streaming. At present the organisation within schools is not a matter for my right hon. Friend, although we are considering all aspects of this serious problem and from time to time we shall make our views known.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

Will the Minister take this opportunity to clarify the exact legal status of the part of the circular which concerns itself with withholding funds from the voluntary aided schools? Is not the truth of the matter that the Secretary of State has no legal power to withhold funds, and is that passage in the circular nothing more than a piece of rhetorical blackmail?

Mr. Armstrong

My right hon. Friend issued the circular with full legal advice from within the Department. He dealt with this subject at great length in the House. If the hon. Gentleman cares to re-read the circular he will find the suggestions and the advice to local authorities very clear.