HC Deb 04 March 1975 vol 887 cc1258-9
14. Mr. Radice

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if, in the light of recent evidence, he will issue fresh guidance to local authorities about fire hazards associated with CLASP-built schools.

22. Mr. W. E. Garrett

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether, in view of further instances of serious fires in schools built on the CLASP system, he will now take specific action to ensure greater safety of existing schools built under this system and to ensure that future methods of school construction ensure maximum safety.

Mr. Armstrong

My Department's current requirements for fire precautions, framed in consultation with other Government Departments, set high standards for new schools of all kinds. Decisions to improve the fire resistance of existing schools require local knowledge and are for local determination. My Department wrote to all local education authorities on 9th January to remind them of basic fire precautions in schools.

Mr. Radice

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer, which will go a long way towards allaying public anxiety. Is he aware, however, that some existing schools built on the CLASP system have a gap between the roof and the ceiling which can be a fire hazard? What advice is he giving to local authorities about the problem and about the prevention of arson?

Mr. Armstrong

In Building Bulletin No. 7 we have referred to the urgent need for fire-stopping in floor and roof cavities. The CLASP buildings are a major concern of ours. Local authorities are responding and are spending money to remedy pre-1971 schools. Of the 32 school fires that have occurred in the North-East recently, seven were in CLASP buildings.

Mr. Garrett

Will my hon. Friend accept my assurance that I and many of my colleagues from the North-East are very satisfied with the work that has been done to ensure that satisfactory reply?

Mr. Armstrong

I am grateful to my hon. Friend.