HC Deb 20 July 1977 vol 935 cc587-9W
Mrs. Bain

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) if he will list in the Official Report the number of residential places available for physically handi- capped students at each further education college in Scotland;

(2) what was the total subsidy given by Her Majesty's Government to the James Little Training College during 1976–77;

(3) what consideration has been given by Her Majesty's Government to the recommendation of the McCann Report that a college of further education for the physically handicapped be established in Scotland; when such a college is likely to be established; and if he will make a statement;

(4) what representations he has received following the announced closure of the James Little Training College; and if he will reconsider his decision not to give financial assistance to the governors.

Mr. McElhone

Information about availability of residential places for physically handicapped students is not held centrally. Education authorities are generally ready to do what they can to assist handicapped students to take advantage of the courses available in colleges of further education, and have power to provide residential accommodation where necessary.

The conclusion of the McCann Committee on the Secondary Education of Physically Handicapped Children in Scotland that a further education college for the physically handicapped is required to meet Scottish needs was carefully considered. My right hon. Friend and I believe that everything possible should be done to keep the handicapped in the main streatm of education rather than to segregate them, and in present circumstances resources would not be available to create a new college. We look forward to receiving the views on this question of the Warnock Committee on Educational Provision for Handicapped Children and Young People, whose attention has been called to the report of the McCann Committee.

The James Little College is an independent institution. In 1976–77, to avoid the closure of the college in mid-session as a result of a lack of enrolments, my right hon. Friend made an exceptional grant of £25,000 to the college; and further payments will be made this year when the actual deficit for the college's financial year to 31st July 1977 is known. Despite every effort by the governors of the college and by my Department, I understand that there are only three firm applications for enrolment for 1977–78. In these circumstances the governors have taken the view that closure of the college is inevitable, and they have not asked my right hon. Friend for further financial assistance. Three representations have been received against the closure of the college, but my right hon. Friend considers that special action would not be justified unless there is a substantial increase in the demand for places.