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School Building

Volume 640: debated on Thursday 11 May 1961

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16.

asked the Minister of Education what inquiries he makes about the particular needs of each area before approving the school-building programme; and what criteria he applies to the proposals put forward by local authorities.

I ask local authorities to supply supporting information with their major building proposals, and I also have the advice of Her Majesty's Inspectors. The relative urgency of each authority's proposals is then considered within the scope of current educational building policy and the national allocation for the year.

Is the Minister aware that his hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary, on 23rd March in this House, spoke of local authorities putting in grossly inflated programmes for school building? Does the Minister agree with this assertion of the Parliamentary Secretary? If so, what is his evidence for saying that local authorities are putting in grossly inflated proposals?

I do not have the Parliamentary Secretary's words exactly in mind, but it is true that the proposals of some local authorities are inflated in relation to what could actually be done by the building industry in time.

Is it not clear that local authorities are putting in programmes to bring the educational standards in their localities up to the minimum requirements laid down by his Department and that, in that sense, they cannot be called inflated programmes? They are minimum programmes.

I quite agree, but it is necessary to be practical in the matter of building programmes.