HC Deb 19 July 1988 vol 137 cc938-9
10. Mr. Pawsey

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what estimate he has made of the number of city technology colleges which could be established if redundant school premises were made available by local education authorities.

Mr. Kenneth Baker

We plan to set up 20 city technology colleges and so far £25 million has been raised by private sponsors. But some local education authorities, for dogmatic political reasons, refuse to co-operate. That is their loss.

Mr. Pawsey

Does my right hon. Friend agree that CTCs do much good for the children of our country and are welcomed by Conservative Members? We want even more CTCs to be created. Will my right hon. Frend tell the House what action he will take to put pressure on local authorities that obstruct Government legislation on this issue?

Mr. Baker

Many Conservative-controlled authorities realise the advantages of CTCs and are co-operating in the programme. No Labour authority has done so yet, but they will come round to it, in two or three years' time.

Mr. Tony Lloyd

The Minister described the reason for refusing to co-operate over CTCs as political. Would he include the Tory-controlled borough of Trafford, which has just withdrawn its proposal to have a CTC on the site of the former Stretford boys' grammar school? Does he accept that the reason for that is that it was realised how the provision of education in north Trafford would be damaged? Will he guarantee that neither a CTC nor an arts tech will be imposed on north Trafford?

Mr. Baker

I understand that proposals are being prepared for me that apply to the reorganisation of the whole of secondary education in Trafford and that any consideration of a CTC has been put on one side until all secondary education there has been reorganised. I am sure that the Greater Manchester area will benefit from at least one CTC, if not two.

Mr. Bowis

If the Inner London education authority continues its dog in the manger attitude to the use of surplus premises for CTCs, will my right hon. Friend enable the London Residuary Body to take that into account in its terms of reference for the disposal of such properties after it succeeds the ILEA?

Mr. Baker

I do not expect ILEA to come forward with any of its surplus property for a CTC; that would be wishful thinking. However, when responsibility is transferred to the London boroughs in April 1990, some may come forward with proposals because they, too, will see the advantages.

Mr. Flannery

Is it not a fact that the chairman of the CTC Trust, Cyril Taylor, has criticised the Department of Education and Science and said that it has "woefully underestimated" the cost of building and refurbishing redundant schools? Did the Department not similarly underestimate the funds that would be forthcoming from private employers, nearly all of them refused to give money, and is not the whole thing now a complete mess?

Mr. Baker

If the hon. Gentleman is present for the debate on CTCs in about an hour's time, I shall point out to him the large number of companies—national names—that have supported the CTCs because they recognise the enormous success of the programme. I can confirm that no other education initiative has raised as much money as the CTC initiative has raised over the past 18 months. The sum is £25 million and it will increase to £30 million in the next few months.

Mr. Madel

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that it is perfectly open to local education authorities to use surplus school places for adult or further education rather than going for clumsy closure plans?

Mr. Baker

I understand what lies behind my hon. Friend's question and I can only reply to him as I replied to him in the debate last night.