HC Deb 19 March 1985 vol 75 cc761-2
1. Mr. Campbell-Savours

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will review the progress of secondary education reorganisation.

The Secretary of State for Education and Science (Sir Keith Joseph)

Local education authorities are on target to remove 1 million surplus school places by 1986. When I consult their associations to set targets for 1987 and later, I shall stress the need to review progress in reorganising secondary schools where the decline in pupil numbers will be at its sharpest for the rest of the decade.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that just as a backlog of building repairs and maintenance for hospital buildings can damage health care, so, with needy education expenditure, a backlog of maintenance, repairs and modifications, particularly where reorganisation of secondary education is taking place, can damage educational provision? Is he further aware that people are willing to pay higher taxes to ensure that such modifications take place and that — for example, in my constituency—without them secondary reorganisation will be threatened?

Sir Keith Joseph

The Government always respect the need for capital to implement approved school reorganisations, as occurred in Cumbria this year. Backlog in maintenance has been going on under one Government after another for many years.

Mrs. Kellett-Bowman

Will my right hon. Friend accept my thanks and those of many people in Lancaster for preserving the girls' grammar school, for enabling it to work on harmoniously in its present buildings and for preventing chaos and disruption at Greaves and Castle schools?

Sir Keith Joseph

The Government try to take decisions that are in the best interests of the children. I am grateful to my hon. Friend for those remarks.

Mr. Freud

Will the Secretary of State give an assurance that no reorganisation will be undertaken if it gives a higher priority to the selected sector than to the benefit of all children?

Sir Keith Joseph

The record shows that we try to make decisions which are in the interests of all the children concerned. I do not use strong language frequently, but it was absolutely wicked of the Labour party, when in government, to abolish direct grant schools.