§ Mr. Burden
asked the Minister of Education if he will make a statement about the school building programme for 1956–57; and the progress that is being made with the schools that are needed for rural re-organisation.
§ Sir D. Eccles
The biggest increase in any one year in the number of secondary school children will occur in 1958, and the demands for school building needed on this account are now reaching a climax. It has also become clear that rural reorganisation will cost £10 million-£15 million more than was originally contemplated, largely because many of the new secondary schools needed for this purpose have to serve both town and country. The Government accept this increased programme, but cannot agree to compress it into two or three years instead of five, as some local authorities wish to do. I shall not therefore be able to approve for 1956–57 all the projects for rural reorganisation which authorities have put forward for that year, but I shall ask authorities to plan the remainder so that they may all be started within the five-year period.
I am therefore approving a school building programme of major projects of about £60 million for 1956–57. This compares with about £60 million for the current year, and about £48 million for 1954–55. It should enable authorities to meet their essential commitments for new places and to start by March, 1957, nearly half of the enlarged five-year programme of rural reorganisation.