HC Deb 08 June 1976 vol 912 cc1175-6
3. Mr. Forman

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he is prepared to meet representatives of those local education authorities which have not submitted plans for comprehensive reorganisation.

The Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. Frederick Mulley)

I would be happy to meet any authorities who wish to consider their position on secondary reorganisation.

Mr. Forman

When he has the chance to meet representatives of the London borough of Sutton will the right hon. Gentleman make sure that he is well acquainted with the strong arguments which were contained in the petition to which the London borough of Sutton contributed 28,000 signatures and which favoured a greater degree of parental choice and the preservation of good schools to ensure that they are not sacrificed on the altar of Socialist dogma?

Mr. Mulley

I seem to have heard a lot about that petition, but not in the terms expressed by the hon. Member. I believe that a petition to this House must end in a particular way if it is to be in order. I met representatives of the Sutton authority last year and I asked them to give careful consideration to the points I made to them. They may have done that, but as far as I know they have not changed their position, and no doubt we shall have to look at the matter again when Parliament passes the Bill which is on the Order Paper for discussion later today.

Mr. Peter Bottomley

Is the Department doing any work on monitoring mixed ability teaching in comprehensive schools, or must we wait 15 years for another Bennett Report on that?

Mr. Mulley

The hon. Member must have come in late, thinking that we were on an earlier Question. Reorganisation by local authorities does not arise out of the point that he made. We may have to take more central control over these matters, but when I take even the modest step of suggesting to local authorities that they should conform to a national pattern, which is what the Education Bill seeks to do, I am accused of attacking local democracy.