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School Building Programme

Volume 531: debated on Thursday 29 July 1954

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22.

asked the Minister of Education what protests she has received from the Welsh Joint Education Committee concerning the school building programme in Wales; and what reply she has sent.

I have been informed that the Welsh Joint Education Committee wish to discuss with me the question of educational building programmes in Wales and Monmouthshire. I hope to arrange a meeting at a convenient date.

Is the Minister aware that I should like to be there? Is she further aware that there is trouble on the way and that the Welsh local authorities are saying many things before they reach her office? Does she not realise that the best way to peace is to meet the requests of these authorities?

The hon. Gentleman said that he would like to be there. Perhaps he will communicate his desire to the Welsh Joint Education Committee. As to what these people say before they reach me, perhaps when they have heard what I have to say they will go away saying something different.

23.

asked the Minister of Education how far local education authorities are permitted to decide their own priorities with regard to the selection of what new schools shall be built in their areas.

Each year I invite local education authorities to list in order of priority the projects they wish me to include in the following year's programme and its reserve. I exclude from this list only those projects which fall outside the categories of work allowed by Circular 245, or which could without damage be deferred to a later programme, or which cannot reasonably be expected to start during the period. This, of course, is normally done in consultation with the authority.

Is the Minister aware that publicity has been given in the educational Press to a local authority in whose area No. 1 priority has been given to a school for a term of years, and that this has been crossed out by the Minister who has given priority to another school? Does she think that the woman in Whitehall knows best?

I do not say that the people in Northamptonshire who drew up that list necessarily knew best, for this reason. The school that was listed was chiefly for reorganisation and, therefore, did not come under the provisions of Circular 245. That particular school has now been put into the reserve list because, I think, by 1958 there will be more children coming to the school, and that is the date when it is required. The other schools are for more children who will be coming there before that time.

24.

asked the Minister of Education to what extent schools included in the reserve list for one year are included in the actual building programme for the following year.

If I put a new school project unconditionally in a reserve list, authorities can assume that it will be included in the following year's main programme unless there has been a marked change in circumstances or they satisfy me that alternative arrangements can be made to accommodate the children.

Does that mean that the proposed new school at Newton Hyde, which the Minister placed in the reserve list for 1954–55, will definitely be in the building programme for 1955–56?

I would have to refresh my memory about the school to which the hon. Gentleman refers.