EDUCATION AND SCIENCE
1. Mr. Hardy
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is the average cost of providing a new secondary school, and the average cost of a secondary school place.
The Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mrs. Margaret Thatcher)
To build a typical school for 900 pupils aged 11 to 18 costs just over £600,000, at an average cost per place of about £675. This figure, like the £20 million for the improvement of old secondary schools announced in the recent White Paper, excludes land, fees and equipment, which together add about one-third to the cost.
Does not that answer show that the proposed extra allocation of money for secondary school buildings will be woefully inadequate in the face of growing demand? Would it not be better to describe this proposal as gimmickry?[column 1544]
Certainly not. £20 million is not gimmickry. Indeed, if it were, it compares very well with the last two programmes left to me by the Labour Government which consisted of under £3 million each year for secondary school improvements.
Going back to the sum of £600, does the right hon. Lady agree that if that were paid back over the time at which a school was likely to exist the cost of providing places would be relatively small compared with the cost of providing total education for the pupils concerned over that period?
Capital costs spread over a longer period are usually a lesser draw on the Exchequer than recurrent costs; but greater capital costs usually give rise to increased recurring capital costs, too.
2. Mr. Deakins
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what representations she has received from teachers about further negotiations on the London allowance after the present period of incomes freeze; and what replies she has sent.
5. Mr. Barnes
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what further representations she has received about the London allowance for teachers; and what replies she has sent.
24. Mr. Norman Lamont
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether she will now allow the negotiations to be reopened on the London teachers' allowance.
Since my hon. Friend's written answer on 30th November to the Question by the hon. Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Arthur Lewis), I have received about 250 further letters from teachers, some dealing with future negotiations. In reply, I have drawn attention to the statement on 20th November by my right hon. Friend A. Barberthe Chancellor of the Exchequer about negotiations during the standstill, and I have pointed out that any new offer from the management panels will need to take account of the second stage of counter-inflation strategy.—[Vol. 847, c. 241: Vol. 847, c. 927.][column 1545]
Will the Secretary of State undertake at the end of the freeze not to obstruct any negotiations between the management panel and the teachers on this vitally important subject, as this seems to be the only way of reducing the high turnover of young teachers in many of the London boroughs, including Waltham Forest.
We do not yet know what will happen after this stage of the freeze is over. This was pointed out in the statement by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Therefore, we are in a somewhat difficult position at the moment. I should point out that everything that has happened so far has been in accordance with the legislation agreed by both parties.
Does the Secretary of State agree that there is a feeling of some anger among teachers in London that the negotiations for the revised allowance were deliberately prevented from taking place before the standstill came into force? Does she not think that it is only fair that, when the revised allowance is agreed, it should be backdated to 1st November?
No. An offer was made on 3rd November, which was accepted by some teachers and was in fact implemented. Others rejected it and were caught by the freeze.
Does the right hon. Lady agree that there is a problem of retaining young teachers in London, particularly about the point when they get married, due to the high costs of housing and travelling? If she will not tell the House how she will solve the problem, may I ask her to give some indication when she will solve it?
The problems in London are no greater than those in other big cities. The turnover is no worse and the proportion of young teachers is no higher. Therefore, these problems are peculiar not only to London, but to other large cities.
As the freeze came into operation, in effect, one month earlier for London teachers than for other groups of workers, will the right hon. Lady seek to ensure that for London teachers the freeze should end one month earlier?[column 1546]
The hon. Gentleman is not correct. An offer was made on 3rd November, three days before the freeze came into effect. Some teachers accepted the offer and their increases have been put into effect.
3. Mr. Meacher
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what consultations she has had with local authorities concerning her White Paper on nursery education.
In framing the proposals in the White Paper which I presented to Parliament on 6th December I took careful account of the views that local authorities and others had expressed to me on the topics it covers, including nursery education.
Will the right hon. Lady explain to local authorities how she can afford a large increase in nursery education while spending almost nothing on comprehensive schools? Has the right hon. Lady consulted local authorities about her proposal to cut the number of teachers in training by almost half? Will not this have the worst effects on oversized classes in deprived areas, thus nullifying most of the advantages of her nursery school proposals?
The short answer to the last point is “No” . There will be more than 110,000 extra teachers over the period covered in the White Paper, a substantial proportion being teachers for nursery education. I am glad the hon. Gentleman is pleased that there is to be more expenditure on nursery schools. No Government have found money especially to enable schools to change from their existing character into comprehensive schools, but a lot of changes have been brought about by raising of the school leaving age building programme, itself a large one, and in some cases through the secondary school basic needs programme which, where it is large, enables some reorganisation changes to come about.
Sir R. Cary
May I ask my right hon. Friend whether, as a sequel to her splendid work in regard to primary schools, nursery education is being made a supplementary addition to that work?
Yes, indeed. A very important part of pre-school education is [column 1547]provided by an earlier start than five. This enables young children to profit fully from their primary education when they start.
The right hon. Lady will recall that in paragraph 28 of the White Paper she expresses the hope that education authorities will concentrate their primary or initial nursery effort on areas within their authorities which have special needs. What does she propose to do about local authorities who do not respond to that wish?
May I first welcome the hon. Gentleman in his new capacity? I think that this is his first Question Time in his new appointment. I hope that he will enjoy working with my Department as much as I do.
On the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question, I believe that almost all local authorities will respond to that wish. They have not been slow to appreciate the problems of the socially deprived areas, and I shall be very suprised if we receive anything less than maximum co-operation from the local education authorities. We shall be able to see from the bids they put in, because in the draft circular we have specifically asked them to take account of the needs of these areas.
Mr. Edwin Wainwright
Will the right hon. Lady guarantee that people north of the Trent will get a fair share of the money that is to be spent, and that she will not allow the greater proportion of it to go to the South-East?
I hope that every region which has problem areas will have a fair share, as will other parts of the country. The North profited very much from the raising of the school leaving age programme which this Government put through.
8. Mr. Winterton
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many children under five are attending nursery schools for primary and infant schools at the latest convenient date; and how this figure compares with those for the previous four years on the same date.
The Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. Norman St. John-Stevas)
In January 1972 there were 351,000 pupils under five in [column 1548]maintained schools in England and Wales. This compares with figures of 257,000 in 1968, 275,000 in 1969, 291,000 in 1970 and 318,000 in 1971.
I thank my hon. Friend for that encouraging reply, although I am not totally satisfied with it. May I ask him and my right hon. Friend to listen to the pleas of local people who are delighted by what the Government have set out in the recently issued White Paper? Is my hon. Friend able to say what increase over the next 12 months in the provision for nursery education places?
Mr. St. John-Stevas
I am glad to have partially satisfied my hon. Friend. With regard to the future, a circular has been sent to education authorities and we are waiting for replies in order to assess their needs.
I assure the hon. Gentleman that he has not satisfied me on this question. Bearing in mind the quite useful hint that is given in the White Paper about bringing nursery regulations into primary schools where there are under-fives and rising-fives, can the hon. Gentleman say to what extent money has been allocated specifically for this purpose? I ask that because the circumstances under which children are received in primary schools from pre-schools are not necessarily governed by the regulations that apply to nursery schools. If there are to be more under-fives and rising-fives in primary schools, a lot of money must be spent in order to apply to those class-rooms the same conditions and regulations that apply in nursery schools, otherwise we shall be getting nursery education on the cheap.
Mr. St. John-Stevas
As a first step the Government propose to authorise a special building programme of £15 million each in the years 1974–75 and 1975–76. The question of primary schools will also be fully considered.
I wonder whether my hon. Friend will help me. An enormous emphasis is now being put on nursery and primary schools. Can my hon. Friend say how fitted the teachers in these schools are to teach Christian ethics to the children under their control?
Mr. St. John-Stevas
I do not think that the matter of teaching Christian [column 1549]ethics comes within the scope of the Department's authority.
13. Mr. William Hamilton
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is the estimated cost of her proposals for education for the under fives as contained in Section 3 of Education, A Framework of Expansion, Cmnd. Paper No. 5174, taking into account changes in building costs, teachers salaries etc., between now and 1976–77.
The effect of the programme announced in the White Paper will be to increase the total current expenditure on the under 5s in England and Wales from about £42 million last year to about £65 million in 1976–77 at constant prices. In addition the Government propose to authorise special building programmes of £15 million each in 1974–75 and 1975–76 as the first step towards the provision of additional accommodation.
However welcome the programme is, does the right hon. Lady not agree that the £15 million provision for 1974–75 could be spent quite easily in the deprived areas alone, but that it is precisely those areas which are likely to contain inarticulate parents who will not bring the pressure on to the local authorities—which was the point that my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) was getting at in his question from the Front Bench? But in any event, the programme will not be enough to meet the new increased demand, which has increased since the Plowden Committee made its recommendations and estimates several years ago. Therefore, will not the right hon. Lady have another look at the matter? We are very grateful for the progress that has been made, but it is still not nearly enough.
As the hon. Gentleman will be the first to appreciate, the deprived areas have been the ones to benefit from the urban programmes under both Governments; these programmes have resulted in a large number of nursery school places in these areas. I have great faith that the local authorities will take the needs of those areas into special account when making their bids. The special building programmes announced in the White Paper are the first two of a 10-year programme, at the end of which [column 1550]we shall hope to have met the Plowden demand. The programme should be considered as a 10-year programme, which no other Government have even been able to contemplate starting.
The right hon. Lady is, of course, aware that I, and I think everyone on this side of the House, welcome the expansion of nursery education. In the White Paper, she stresses the question of disadvantaged children, which has already been raised, and, quite rightly, she has just mentioned the urban aid programme. But is she not aware that large numbers of children in areas that are called deprived are children in day nurseries and many children with unregistered child minders, and that their need, although it is for nursery education, is for a policy that caters for the child whose mother has to go out to work? Does the right hon. Lady not agree that we are not meeting their educational needs unless we consider pre-school education as a whole? Some special provision must be made for those children whose need cannot be met by part-time nursery education.
The White Paper also refers to pre-school playgroups, because we appreciated that we had to consider pre-school education and social requirements as a whole as well. There are some schemes in which nursery schools have co-operated with day nurseries, so that there is educational provision—not enough, yet, I agree—and day nursery care as well. The latter, of course, comes under the Department of Health and Social Security, but we try as much as we can to co-ordinate our activities with regard to this group.
18. Mr. Barry Jones
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science when she proposes to withdraw Circular 8/60.
Early in the New Year.
I thank the right hon. Lady for that welcome reply. What special measures can she take to ensure that the average working-class child from the average council estate will get a fair share of the expanding nursery school provision? Does she, for example, favour the widespread provision of day nurseries and nursery schools or classes [column 1551]in those areas where the expansion may be missed by the working-class child?
That will be dealt with in the new circular which is going out, which will ask for bids particularly from problem areas. I believe that local authorities will take into account in making those bids the points that the hon. Gentleman has made.
23. Mr. Grylls
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many part-time nursery school places have been provided between June 1970 and December 1972; and what is her estimate of the number which will be provided by 1980.
The number of children under five years of age attending part-time in maintained schools in England and Wales rose from 46,000 in January 1970 to 72,000 in January 1972. I estimate that the number will increase to over 900,000 by 1981–82.
While congratulating my right hon. Friend on her satisfactory report on progress in nursery education, and while I recognise that there is a need in the large cities, may I ask her to bear in mind that there is also a need in county areas like Surrey?
I think there is certainly a need in some of the rural areas, but county areas like Surrey will, I am afraid, not be among the first to benefit from the nursery schools programme, for reasons which I am sure will be understood.
4. Miss Lestor
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many holders of the Nursery Nurses' Examination Board qualification are currently employed in maintained nursery schools and classes.
In England and Wales, 4,104 in January 1972. In addition 1,645 were helping in infant classes.
The right hon. Lady will be aware that one of the things that inhibits young girls from going in for training for the NNEB qualification is the appalling salary that they receive at the end of their training? I recognise that that is not altogether the right hon. [column 1552]Lady's responsibility, but can she say what is being done about changing the quality of training for NNEB qualification? The right hon. Lady hints at this in paragraph 31 of the White Paper, which says that more of these people are to be used in nursery schools and classes. What efforts are being made to attract young men into training, both for work in nursery schools, and for the NNEB qualification?
Pay is negotiated through the Whitley Council. The pay for those aged 20 and over is between £726 and £999 a year.
On the question of more courses, we shall have to operate through the local education authorities which are, of course, in charge of them, and we hope that they will respond as quickly as possible through the provision of courses leading to the NNEB certificate.
As regards young men coming into training, they can take a nursery option in the colleges of education that are specialising in primary school work, or in certificated training for teachers but have a nursery option. That is probably the most likely way they would come in.
6. Mr. Montgomery
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many completely new grammar schools have been built in England and Wales since the war; when the Department last authorised the building of a new grammar school; and how many times since then a local authority has been refused permission to build a grammar school.
Mr. St. John-Stevas
Four hundred and eleven, Sir, the last of which was programmed in 1964 to start in 1967–68. Since then no proposals to build new grammar schools have been submitted by local authorities.
If a local authority decides that it would like a new grammar school in its area, and if a proposal is put to the Department, will it be looked upon favourably?
Mr. St. John-Stevas
Any proposal for a new grammar school would, of course, be considered on its merits. It would be subject to the procedures laid down [column 1553]under Section 13 of the Education Act, including the giving of public notice.
Is my hon. Friend aware that while the public generally are grateful for what the Government have done to maintain the great grammar schools of this country they want to ensure that these schools continue to be supported by the Government, and also that sufficient new ones are to be built?
Mr. St. John-Stevas
I note my hon. Friend's remarks.
Universities (Quinquennial Grants)
9. Mr. Dalyell
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether she is satisfied with the working of the system of quinquennial grants for the universities; and if she will make a statement.
I believe that the present system has great advantages both for the Government and for the universities. The University Grants Committee and I are always ready to consider constructive suggestions for improving it.
Here is one constructive suggestion. The university quinquennial system has served this country well, but has not the time come, at any rate in some universities, to put into operation a rather more sensitive rolling programme, particularly to help finance research and post-graduate work?
The trouble about some constructive suggestions is that they are not always universally welcomed. If there were to be a change it would have to be done in consultation with and the full agreement of the University Grants Committee. I have said that we are always ready to consider new suggestions for improving the system.
Is there not a case for introducing a quinquennial system in university financing so as to bring that and the control of that financing into line with the rest of public expenditure by means of the public expenditure surveys?
There may be a case for that. There is also a case for having a specific quinquennium when both the university grants committee and the universities know exactly where they can go. There are arguments on both sides, [column 1554]but if we changed from what we have to something different, it would have to be with the broad agreement of the relevant committees and specific universities.
20. Mr. Robert Hughes
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science to what extent, in allocating the forthcoming quinquennial estimates to the University Grants Committee, she took account of the need to stimulate research and teaching on developments arising out of North Sea oil exploration.
When settling the grants for the 1972–77 quinquennium I took account of the University Grants Committee's advice on the whole range of university development. It is now for the committee and the institutions to allocate and spend the grants according to their view of the priorities.
Is the right hon. Lady not aware of the crucial need to stimulate research and teaching of the technological developments associated with North Sea oil? Is she not further aware that the needs of the universities will not be best served if they have to rely entirely on grants from private sources or on individual Government grants for specific but sporadic projects? In view of the importance of this matter to the Scottish universities, will the right hon. Lady not look at it again?
The University Grants Committee does the allocation between the universities. I have no control over that. The committee is well aware of the problems which the hon. Gentleman has raised and I believe that it does its best to meet them. Recurrent expenditure can also be met by grants from the Science Research Council. There are, therefore, in effect, two Government sources as well as private sources for expenditure on this kind of research.
Does the right hon. Lady not agree that the point here is that a new situation has developed in which the technological problems associated with this new industry are of such a kind that if we made the right kind of investment through academic institutions in research into this activity it would have a tremendous spin-off effect on the Scottish economy? There is, for example, the under-sea problem, the stormy water [column 1555]problem, and the steel problem all of which are closely linked with the economic problems involved with Scottish industrial development.
I agree, but it is also likely that the University Grants Committee is aware of the opportunities and that the universities themselves, which are always anxious to meet the requirements for new research and new technological challenge, have included these in their bids.
With regard to stormy waters and other environmental and oceanographic problems, a good deal of research is done on these through the National Environmental Research Council, whose work has been particularly helpful to those who are employed on oil rigs in the North Sea.
Is the right hon. Lady satisfied that there is a reasonable growth rate in the provision of financial support from the University Grants Committee? I understand that one of the major problems in the areas of research and development is that during the last few years there has been a plateauing of financial provision instead of a substantial growth in this field. Is the right hon. Lady satisfied that the support system is adequate to meet the request of my hon. Friends?
Expenditure plateaux are unknown in education. They are always rising curves. The new quinquennial settlement for the universities follows that habit.
Fitzwilliam Junior Mixed School, Mexborough
10. Mr. Edwin Wainwright
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will now agree to bring forward the starting date for a replacement for the Fitzwilliam Junior Mixed School, Swinton, Mexborough, in view of the distance pupils have to travel for their school meal.
Mr. St. John-Stevas
I cannot add to the reply given by my predecessor to the hon. Member's Question on 26th October.—[Vol. 843, c. 386.]
Does the hon. Gentleman realise how disappointing it is to hear those words again? Will he take into account the fact that this school was built in 1853 and that the children [column 1556]have to walk 400 yards along a very busy thoroughfare to the main building to have their school meal, and then walk back again, through all kinds of inclement weather? We shall probably be having sleet, snow and heavy rain in the near future, and even in the summer the children will get wet through walking for their school meal. Will the hon. Gentleman either supply some suitable clothing for the children to use when necessary during very inclement weather or make a special allocation to the West Riding County Council for a new school as soon as possible?
Mr. St. John-Stevas
I appreciate the hon. Gentleman's anxiety about the welfare of schoolchildren in his constituency. But it is for the West Riding Education Authority, in the first place, to suggest the priority that should be given to projects. In the past it has given other projects a higher priority, but my right hon. Friend will certainly consider its claims carefully, along with other proposals which are submitted, in the preliminary list of projects which are expected to start in 1975–76. I am afraid that we have no power to make grants for clothing.
Museums and Galleries (Admission Charges)
11. Mr. Strauss
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether she will consult the trustees of the National Museums and Galleries about the most suitable date for imposing entrance charges after the end of the freeze.
Mr. St. John-Stevas
No, Sir, but the trustees will of course be given the longest possible notice of the date to enable them to make the necessary arrangements.
Is the Under-Secretary aware that the Trustees of the British Museum have recently, if belatedly, declared their strong opposition to the imposition of these charges? Now the trustees of all the national museums and galleries in the British Isles have shown their opposition to this Philistine policy and, as they would plainly like to see an indefinite postponement of the implementation of this policy, does not the Under-Secretary, who is a civilised and cultured person, agree that they are right?[column 1557]
Mr. St. John-Stevas
I am grateful for that tribute of being civilised and cultured, as indeed is the right hon. Gentleman. Regarding the policy issues, I am afraid that these were settled with the passing of the Museums and Galleries Admission Charges Act, and this is the law of the land.
Since the hon. Gentleman's welcome accession to office, on this universally deplored measure which I cannot believe he supports, why has he not talked some sense—he is a greater talker, after all—into the thick skulls of his two departmental bosses, that disposable Lord in the other place and that lamentable Lady here.
Mr. St. John-Stevas
Those remarks by the hon. Gentleman were neither cultured nor civilised. I should like him to get this matter in perspective and to consider the question of charges in the context of the record amount of money that my noble Friend Lord Eccles has obtained for the arts, including £6 million only yesterday for the expanded Covent Garden site, which will give him a claim to be considered the modern Maecenas of our age.
Mr. William Hannan
If the hon. Gentleman must have a date, may I suggest 30th February 1973, and the same date in any succeeding year?
Mr. St. John-Stevas
I take note of the hon. Gentleman's suggestion, which will be noted in the Department.
12. Mr. Grylls
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many full-time and part-time students she expects to be in the polytechnics in the year 1975–76.
Mr. St. John-Stevas
Estimates for individual years and for a particular group of institutions are bound to be uncertain. On the basis of information up to 1971, the figures might be of the order of 90,000–100,000 and 75,000–85,000 respectively.
I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. Is he aware that, unlike the previous Government, which gave birth to the polytechnics but then starved them, the extra money being spent by [column 1558]the present Government in the polytechnics is very much welcomed in higher education generally? Will he pay special attention to getting more money for the expansion of library facilities in the new polytechnics, which are very short of money.
Mr. St. John-Stevas
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for those encouraging remarks. May I, in turn, remind him that building projects due for completion between 1971 and 1975, which will cost £27 million, will add substantially to the capacity. The pace of expansion has now been stepped up. It is up to the authorities of the polytechnics to decide, within their budget, to what they will give priority. Certainly there is no point in having polytechnics without any books.
Will the hon. Gentleman take the opportunity of telling the House now when the Government intend to produce a White Paper saying what they intend to do for those who will not be attending any polytechnic or other institution of higher learning, whether part time or full time, who amount to about 78 per cent. of the 16–19 age group? It is not sufficient for the Government merely to identify a gap.
Mr. St. John-Stevas
One White Paper per month is probably enough.
Will my hon. Friend say what attention he is giving to the provision of residential accommodation for students attending polytechnics, and whether he will issue further advice to local authorities and others concerned to encourage as many as possible of those attending polytechnics to attend the local polytechnic rather than a polytechnic which is many miles away from their homes?
Mr. St. John-Stevas
We have already authorised residential expenditure for 1973–74 for 1,650 extra places. £2 million for residential projects will go to polytechnics and another £1 million will go to non-polytechnic projects. In 1974–75 that sum will rise to £5 million. With regard to students attending colleges and universities nearer their homes, that is a question which, under our present system, must be left to the individual choices of the students involved, but certainly the whole question is being studied within the Department.[column 1559]
St. John's Primary School, Kingston
14. Mr. Norman Lamont
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether she will approve St. John's Primary School, Kingston in the next programme for rebuilding.
Mr. St. John-Stevas
My right hon. Friend is considering the Kingston local education authority's proposal to replace this school in the programme of work due to start in 1975–76.
May I remind my hon. Friend that the Kingston council attaches considerable importance to replacing the school? It has no changing facilities, no dining facilities and no assembly hall, the toilets are outside and all the classrooms are extremely restrictive. From our civilised and cultured Under-Secretary, may we please have a civilised school?
Mr. St. John-Stevas
The basic difficulty is that the Kingston authority is such a civilised and cultured authority that it has made excellent progress in programming its primary school replacements. Accordingly, in the 1972–73 lists only one project could be allowed, and the authority itself put St. John 's second in the order of priority.
15. Mr. Michael McNair-Wilson
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science in the light of the White Paper on Education, “A Framework for Expansion” , what plans she has to raise the standard to be achieved by those wishing to enter the teaching profession.
The proposed new three-year courses leading to a degree and a teaching qualification will require higher minimum entry standards than the present three-year courses. It will be necessary, however, for the present certificate courses to continue for a transitional period. Competition for entry is already becoming keener. Forty per cent. have two A levels and 28 per cent. have one A level.
I am grateful for that reply, but would my right hon. Friend not agree that the effectiveness of teacher training depends upon the quality [column 1560]of person coming forward? Does she feel that sufficient emphasis is being placed upon career opportunities in education?
I agree with the first part of that question, and I hope that we are putting emphasis on career opportunities in education. The Burnham settlement before last was a structural settlement and had just that objective in view.
26. Mr. Spearing
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what percentage of the teaching force in maintained schools in England and Wales changed their schools or entered or left the profession in the year 1971.
In the year ended 31st March 1971, entrants and re-entrants amounted to 15.0 per cent. of the teaching force: 9.1 per cent. retired or left the profession. Information on change of school is not available.
Does the right hon. Lady agree that part of the quality of education in any one school depends on the extent to which the staff do or do not turn over in numbers? Is is not part of her responsibility to find out what that turnover is, particularly in areas such as London, so that she can discharge her responsibility for maintaining reasonable education standards? Will she now make investigations into the matter?
From time to time we do spot checks, which show that the turnover in some other authorities is much greater than in London.
Totally Deprived Schools
17. Mr. Spriggs
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many totally deprived junior schools there are at present in use within the county borough of St. Helens and what is the age of each such school.
Mr. St. John-Stevas
There are no “totally deprived” schools. In the country as a whole some 570 schools have been designated as schools of exceptional difficulty for the purpose of a special salary addition to teachers but there is, as the hon. Gentleman will know, none in St. Helens.[column 1561]
I regret that the hon. Gentleman is not aware that there are totally deprived schools in St. Helens. I should like him to convey to his right hon. Friend an invitation from me and from the management committee of the Sacred Heart Roman Catholic School, St. Helens, to visit that school and others where infants and juniors are being taught in conditions reminiscent of workhouses of the Dickensian age. I appeal to the right hon. Lady to give some time to see for herself what teaching staff and children have to put up with in this day and age. I appeal to the hon. Gentleman not to be so complacent in his replies but to get off his behind and do something about it.
Mr. St. John-Stevas
At least I have now complied with the first part of the hon. Gentleman's exhortation. There are 11 old primary schools in St. Helens, but the hon. Gentleman must be fair. One of the difficulties in replacing these has been the extreme difficulty in acquiring alternative sites in the area for new buildings. Attempts have been made with regard to four schools. With regard to three of the schools, Moss Bank's future is uncertain because of redevelopment, and the school has only two classes; St. Austin's is being remodelled with money from the minor works programme; and Windleshaw has been submitted for the next preliminary list which my right hon. Friend is now considering for projects to start in 1975–76.
Minor Works Allocation
19. Mr. Adam Butler
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will revise the minor works allocations for 1973–74, in the light of the fact that many local education authorities, with the authorisation of her Department, have brought forward into 1972–73 much of their allocations for that year; and if she will make a statement.
Minor works allocations for 1972–74, at £92 million, are already 20 per cent. greater in real terms than in the previous two years. I am, however, increasing the allocations of some local education authorities to meet local shortages of primary school places.
I welcome that announcement, because I know that it affects the county of Leicestershire among others [column 1562]and is evidence of the Government's attitude towards education expenditure. But is my right hon. Friend aware that the £50,000 which she has allocated to Leicestershire is the equivalent of only one primary school project and that, due to the population growth in that county, the greatest part of next year's allocation will go to mobile classrooms, to the detriment of primary school replacement and modernisation?
We are very much aware that counties like Leicestershire have had great problems because they have been taking many children who have moved out from city centres. This is one reason which has led us to increase the allocation. The total increase, I am happy to inform my hon. Friend, will be £2.5 million in England and Wales. We will be informing the local education authorities shortly of their share.
Has the right hon. Lady recently had replies from local authorities about what they describe as the “flexible use” of the minor works programme? Does she contemplate returning to what seems to me the sensible process of allowing the minor works programme to be used for certain improvements in old schools?
The minor works programmes are completely flexible. The local education authorities can use them as they wish; I have no control over how they use the minor works programmes. The flexibility to which the right hon. Gentleman is referring is between the minor works and the capital major programmes, which is a different matter.
Schools Reorganisation (Goole)
21. Dr. Marshall
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether she will now approve the scheme submitted to her by the West Riding Education Authority for reorganisation of schools in the Goole district in September 1973.
Mr. St. John-Stevas
I understand that the local education authority is considering some limited revision of the proposals, related to the precise age-range of some of the schools as expressed in the public notices. Until she has received [column 1563]further information, my right hon. Friend will not, in fact, make her decision.
Does the hon. Gentleman realise that until the scheme is approved for reorganisation next September there will be considerable uncertainty because no new appointments of teaching staff can be made? Also if the scheme is not approved for next September it will mean almost an emergency reimposition of totally undesirable selection procedures for the present year.
Mr. St. John-Stevas
I note those points which have been made by the hon. Gentleman, but I think he will agree that if slightly revised proposals are submitted a further period of two months must be allowed to elapse for the submission of any objections. That is required by law.
Mr. Mitchell, Question No. 22.
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Hon. Members who have Questions Nos. 22, 23 and 24 on the Order Paper will be asking their second Questions, whereas I, with Question No. 25——
Order. May I have the point of order at the end of Question Time, please?
25. Mr. Dormand
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what consultations she intends to have with local education authorities concerning her proposals in the White Paper on Special Education.
I already have views on present priorities derived from local education authorities' bids for current special school building programmes, their waiting lists for special school places and other indications of need. Priorities will be reviewed regularly in the light of the projects submitted for future programmes and of changes in the demand for places.
Does not the scant attention given in the White Paper to special education demonstrate yet again the little interest the Government show in this neglected part of education? How does the right hon. Lady hope to convince the local education authorities that the provisions mentioned in the White Paper [column 1564]will meet the needs? Does not she agree that the building programme for special schools proposed in the White Paper is totally inadequate? Is not the lack of any reference to the training of specialist teachers a most serious omission?
There had been a number of other reports on particular aspects of special education long before the White Paper came out. I think that in most places the substantial increase in capital programmes for special schools has been widely welcomed.