HC Deb 01 December 1987 vol 123 cc748-9
5. Mr. Simon Hughes

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what representations he has received concerning the Inner London education authority's south-west quadrant review.

Mr. Dunn

Representations have been received from three hon. Members and a number of parents. Since the Inner London education authority has not yet published statutory proposals for schools in the south-west quadrant, the matter remains one for the authority.

Mr. Hughes

The Minister will be aware that the education committee and the authority have now made their decision and that it is on the way to his Department. Included in that decision is the proposal to amalgamate and thus end the life of the London Nautical school in my constituency. Parents, local hon. Members and, indeed, some members of the majority group in ILEA are greatly concerned that the London Nautical school might disappear. Will the Minister undertake that the decision whether to implement or to change the proposals of the education authority will be made speedily and that the London Nautical school in particular will receive favourable consideration from him and his colleagues?

Mr. Dunn

Given the size of the proposals, which I have yet to receive, it may be some time before we can adjudicate upon them. However, I assure the hon. Gentleman that the Government attach considerable importance to increasing parental choice and that the extent of local support or opposition is a relevant factor in our consideration of proposals.

Mr. Gerald Bowden

I note with pleasure my hon. Friend's response and I note, too, that he has rejected ILEA'S proposals in relation to the north-east quadrant. Will he take note that many parents in my constituency, and parents of children who go to school in my constituency, do not believe that tertiary education is the only way in which to deal with 16 to 19-year-olds? There is a place for sixth forms and for schools such as the London Nautical school and the William Penn school, both of which are matters of great concern.

Mr. Dunn

I note my hon. Friend's fervour on the matter. I remind the House that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State considers each proposal on its merits. In the case referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Dulwich (Mr. Bowden), my right hon. Friend was not satisfied that the proposal relating to Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Islington offered good value for the considerable capital costs involved, or that it did enough to tackle the problem of surplus capacity in secondary schools in those areas.