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School, Chandler's Ford

Volume 650: debated on Thursday 30 November 1961

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asked the Minister of Education what is the price at which the Hampshire education authority is acquiring the site for the erection of Oakmount Secondary School, Chandler's Ford; and why he refused permission to acquire this site in 1954.

I understand that the authority has paid £75,000 for this site. This is a complicated case, and I will write to the hon. Member as soon as I have full information.

Is the Minister aware that this land was eagerly offered by the owner to the Hampshire education committee, in 1954, for £7,500, that it asked the Minister to give permission to buy the land, that permission was not forthcoming, and that it has now had to buy the same land at a cost not of £7,500 but £75,000, and even that is below the market value of £100,000? Does he not think that his Ministry, which has a moral responsibility for inflicting an extra £67,000 on the ratepayers, should bear some of the financial burden? [Interruption.]

May I say to my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill), who has just entered the Chamber, that I am sure all right hon. and hon. Members in the House will wish to extend to him their affectionate and respectful good wishes on the occasion of his birthday?

As a supplementary to that, may I express to the right hon. Member for Woodford the pride and pleasure that we all feel on this the occasion of his 87th birthday and at his presence among us on this historic occasion?

Perhaps I may remind the Minister of my supplementary question, which was broken into by this extremely happy occasion. Since his Ministry is morally responsible for saddling the ratepayers of Hampshire with an extra £67,000, cannot he accept the financial responsibility?

The hon. Member put his Question down only a day ago. As he has also shown, there are many details which must be looked into. But I can assure him that as soon as I have received the full information I will communicate with him.