§ The Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. Ernest Armstrong)
My Department wrote to local education authorities on 27th January informing them of their lump sum authorisations for school building in 1975–76.
§ Mr. Duffy
Is my hon. Friend aware that no region has more pupils per teacher in secondary schools than Yorkshire and Humberside? Although there are doubtless many factors involved, and therefore many explanations, is he quite sure that one explanation is not the amount and quality of accommodation at secondary school level in Yorkshire and Humberside?
§ Mr. Armstrong
Yes, I am aware of the problems. The building allocations are very largely related to basic need—that is, for children who would otherwise have no school to attend. Of this year's allocations Yorkshire and Humberside, although it has only 8.9 per cent. of the population, has 9.5 per cent. of the overall building allocation.
§ Mr. Skinner
Is my hon. Friend aware that whereas in South Yorkshire and Humberside the problem may be one of pupil-teacher ratio, in North Derbyshire and in my constituency in particular it is a question of having a large number of pre-1903 slum infant and junior schools? Is he aware that in Whitwell in particular, which was subject to cuts as a result of the intervention by the present Leader of the Opposition in her former guise as Secretary of State for Education and Science in November 1973, pupils are still having to walk many miles every week in order to get their meals and to go to the sports hall? We have a name on the school building but 1242 we have no school. Will my hon. Friend get the matter restored as quickly as possible?
§ Mr. Armstrong
Yes, I am aware of the acute difficulties to which my hon. Friend has drawn my attention previously. He has highlighted the problem that no two authorities are the same. They all have their different problems. That is why the building allocation is now a lump sum allocation so that priorities can be decided at local level instead of in Whitehall.