HC Deb 26 July 1977 vol 936 cc289-90
8. Mr. Greville Janner

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether she will pay an official visit to the schools of the city of Leicester.

Miss Margaret Jackson

My right hon. Friend has at present no plans to do so.

Mr. Janner

When my hon. Friend or any other Ministers visit the city of Leicester, will they bear in mind the grave concern in Leicester and in all cities about the growing power of county councils in education? Is she aware that Leicestershire County Council has withdrawn all grant aid to village halls, voluntary youth services and community centre projects? Will she denounce and renounce the Government's previously expressed intention to give local authorities the power to allocate such grants rather than retaining it, as all voluntary service workers hope, within her Department?

Miss Jackson

I am aware that in various parts of the country, including Leicester, there is some remaining conflict between the previous city councils and the new county councils which have adopted the powers previously employed by cities and boroughs. I am aware that in some cases in these areas there has been difficulty in assimilating the different policies and programmes of the two bodies that were previously concerned. Therefore, in one or two areas such as Leicester there is a demand to reduce the power of county councils. I must say to my hon. and learned Friend that this is not a matter for my Department and that, although we are aware of the difficulties that have been created in some areas, we very much hope that those difficulties can be resolved by local negotiation and local co-operation. [HON. MEMBERS: "Too long."]. My hon. Friend referred to the withdrawal of grant aid from other county council functions. These are, of course, powers which are exercised by county councils and which we have at present no intention to withdraw.

Mr. Speaker

Order. It is two minutes past three and we have only reached Question No. 8. We are going far too slowly today.

Mr. Jim Marshall

Will my hon. Friend impress on her Government colleagues the need to continue the urban aid schemes which are providing help outside the formal education system and are doing a great deal of good work in cities such as Leicester with different ethnic groups? If this aid does not continue, at least one scheme in Leicester—the Youth Foundation, which is doing good work in the West Indian community—will go out of existence in the near future.

Miss Jackson

I am aware of the great need for these schemes in a number of parts of the country, and I am aware of how great a need Leicester has and how greatly it has benefited. I think that it is the intention that such schemes should continue.