HC Deb 27 November 1990 vol 181 cc730-1
8. Mr. Allen

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science when he next plans to visit the city technology college in Nottingham to discuss the funding of city technology colleges

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

I hope to arrange a visit to the city technology college in Nottingham early in the new year, as soon as my diary commitments permit.

Mr. Allen

Is the Secretary of State aware that the amount of money spent on one city technology college in Nottingham is greater than the amount needed to repair all the other schools in Nottingham? Had that money been reallocated, it could have met the cost of building eight new schools in the Nottinghamshire area. As it is the right hon. and learned Gentleman's own education authority, will he do something about that problem and end the ridiculous and elitist CTC system?

Mr. Clarke

That money has provided an extremely well-equipped, brand new school in a depressed part of Nottingham inner city. The college is popular with parents and with those who teach there and it makes a valuable addition to the city's education facilities. The money for it was not provided at the expense of other Nottinghamshire schools and the whole project will bring in £2 million of private sector investment in education which would not otherwise have been available to pupils in that city. Given the range of issues confronting Nottinghamshire's education authority, it is absurd for the hon. Gentleman to raise only the question of trying to close down or get rid of one of the city's finest new features.

Mr. Andy Stewart

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that before Nottingham city technology college was opened, the county council was asked whether there was scope for any closures and replied that there was not, yet immediately the college was opened the authority announced the closure of three schools when it could have sold one to the CTC and received £3 million to spend on other education provision?

Mr. Clarke

My hon. Friend and the hon. Member for Nottingham, North (Mr. Allen) both know as well as I do that Nottinghamshire county council has a long history of such actions, refusing to sell derelict flats for rebuilding, to sell old people's homes to private companies which would refurbish them, or to make premises available for the city technology college, preferring to lose money, incur expenditure, and make cuts in services—cuts which would otherwise be unnecessary. The county council's attitude to the CTC has been churlish from the beginning and flies totally in the face of the opinions of very many people in Nottingham.

Mr. Straw

Is the Secretary of State aware that when commenting on the withdrawal of support for a proposed city technology college in the Prime Minister's borough of Barnet—[HON. MEMBERS: "Not in Nottingham".]—Sir Cyril Taylor, the chairman of the CTC trust, said: It is madness to go on spending money on the original type of college"— the original concept of the CTC—[Interruption.]——

Mr. Speaker

Order. Let us get back to Nottingham.

Mr. Straw

When the Secretary of State goes to Nottingham—notwithstanding that the Minister described that as a misplaced leak, Sir Cyril Taylor has not denied the veracity of those words—will he agree that if it is madness as far as the chairman of the CTC trust is concerned, it ought to be madness as far as he is concerned?

Mr. Clarke

I am glad to say that nowadays the Labour party is totally outgunned in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire and the hon. Gentleman's intervention in our local controversies is not too welcome. We are on course for 15 city technology colleges, of which seven are already under way. If there is doubt about the future, it is caused in part by the Labour party's threat not to continue with the programme, a threat which has an obvious deterrent effect on sponsors. I invite the hon. Gentleman to come to Nottingham to visit the city technology college and to see for himself what a valuable addition it is to education facilities for children in Nottinghamshire.