HC Deb 24 April 1996 vol 276 cc432-3
12. Mr. Nigel Evans

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many grant-maintained schools there are in the north-west of England. [25090]

Mr. Robin Squire

There are 96 grant-maintained schools in the north-west of England.

Mr. Evans

As my hon. Friend will know, four of those grant-maintained schools are within the Ribble valley. They are excellent schools—and that does not detract from the excellent dedication provided by other schools. Surely the important thing is that it was the choice of the parents as to whether they should be grant-maintained schools.

Will my hon. Friend give a commitment that he will continue to prioritise parental choice in this regard and that he will not allow dogma to get in the way of denying parents the final choice about whether schools should be grant-maintained, irrespective of whether they happen to come from Peckham, Sedgefield or any other part of the United Kingdom?

Mr. Squire

I willingly give my hon. Friend that assurance. As he knows, since the start of this year alone, another five schools have gone GM in his region. I also give him an assurance that, in the White Paper to be published in June, we shall specifically consider ways to allow GM schools better to develop and take advantage of that state of self-governance.