HC Deb 19 November 1974 vol 881 cc1088-9
11. Mr. Skinner

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will take steps to restore the cuts in educational spending on replacing slum schools in the Bolsover constituency imposed in November 1973 by the last but one administration.

Mr. Armstrong

One of the three primary schools in the constituency affected by the suspension of the improvement programme is among the projects now eligible to start following the announcement of the 1974–75 programme. I cannot say when it will be possible for the other two to be included in a programme.

Mr. Skinner

I hope that it will not be very long. Is my hon. Friend aware that there are more than 200 schools in Derbyshire that are pre-twentieth century? They could all be labelled as slum schools in their various ways. Is he aware that one of the best ways to overcome the intermediate area problems is to inject public spending so as to increase the opportunities for children? Will he bear in mind that we do not want any silly nonsense talked about not having sufficient money to do these jobs? If £1,600 million can be found by the Government to swell company profits, there must be enough money to get our youngsters out of the conditions in which they are now being taught.

Mr. Armstrong

I share my hon. Friend's impatience with the number of schools that were built before 1903 which so many of our children who have no choice of schools, are compelled to attend. We are determined to get rid of the old primary schools as quickly as possible. I remind my hon. Friend that we inherited from our predecessors a programme of roof-over-heads basic needs. We announced last week a programme for the replacement of old primary schools. I am glad that at least one school in my hon. Friend's constituency is included in that programme.

Mrs. Kellett-Bowman

Does the Minister accept that many schools that were built in the previous century are outstandingly good buildings but require adaptations to meet the needs of the twentieth century? Does he appreciate that it was with dismay that my county received such a tiny grant for minor improvements? Will he ensure that we are not so badly treated next year?

Mr. Armstrong

I accept that there are some schools that do not need replacement but need adaptation. However, I have visited many schools in the past six months that should be pulled down and replaced.