HC Deb 12 February 1975 vol 886 cc362-3
16. Mr. Canavan

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the up-to-date position of the plans for a new high school at Bannockburn.

Mr. Robert Hughes

I understand that Stirlingshire Education Authority expects to submit soon to my Department a formal application for approval of the plans for this project.

Mr. Canavan

Does my right hon. Friend realise that the full benefits of comprehensive education will not be available to all the children in Bannockburn until the new high school is open. Will he give an assurance that the cuts in the school building programme will not affect that project? Will he do all in his power to press his own Department and Stirling County Council to expedite the finalisation of the plans? This delay is hampering the educational opportunities of the children in the Bannockburn area.

Mr. Hughes

Yes, I am aware of the benefits of comprehensive education in my hon. Friend's constituency. The authority hopes to be in a position to start the first phase before 30th June 1975, that is, during the current building year. However, an amendment to the county council's development plan is required, and that will be taken care of shortly. Certainly the project will go ahead soon.

Mr. Reid

In reviewing the Bannockburn situation, will the Minister consider the question of the numbers of children in hutted accommodation throughout central Scotland? The numbers are unacceptably high. What will the Minister do to reduce them?

Mr. Hughes

I am aware that there are many pupils in hutted accommodation. How fast we can remedy that situation depends largely on what resources we have available from year to year. Certainly it is a problem which is constantly brought to my attention. One wants to see that situation disposed of.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

Is the Minister aware that the Government, by cutting expenditure on school building in Edinburgh by almost three-quarters of the sum asked for, at a time when 432 parents have asked for application forms to transfer their children from grant-aided to comprehensive schools, may create a serious problem of overcrowding in comprehensive schools in Edinburgh, and that if nothing is done about it the teaching may be carried on in thoroughly inadequate circumstances in the future?

Mr. Hughes

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman would not wish to exaggerate the position. So far there have been 211 firm applications to Edinburgh Corporation, some of which are from parents who want their children to sit their examinations in a State school and thus avoid the possibility of paying fees for the last term at the school they now attend.

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