HC Deb 23 May 1995 vol 260 cc692-3
2. Mr. Quentin Davies

To ask the Secretary of State for Education if she will make a statement on future access to the Stamford endowed schools. [23810]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Mr. Robin Squire)

I understand that Lincolnshire county council is consulting on a proposal to phase out its scholarship scheme for 25 boys and 25 girls to attend the two Stamford endowed schools.

Mr. Davies

Is my hon. Friend aware that these county scholarships, which have enabled children who qualify academically in Stamford to go to the Stamford school and the high school—both excellent schools—irrespective of their parents' means, have been a priceless educational asset to generations of Stamford children? Is he further aware that the only reasons why the county council is planning to abolish the scholarship scheme are ideological prejudice and sheer malice? [Interruption.] Does my hon. Friend agree that the behaviour of Opposition Front Benchers, who are shouting now, is contemptible? They take advantage of educational choice for their own children in London, yet when they come to power with their Liberal poodles in Lincolnshire they try to destroy parental choice there.

Mr. Squire

My hon. Friend has touched on a sensitive point with Opposition Members. I am sure that he is right about the many boys and girls in Lincolnshire who have benefited in past years, but I am afraid that this is a matter for Lincolnshire county council alone to determine. My right hon. Friend has no jurisdiction, provided that there are sufficient other places for school pupils in the area. I note, however, that the headmaster of Stamford school has described the proposal as social and educational vandalism.