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List D Schools

Volume 928: debated on Wednesday 23 March 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what further representations he has had concerning the future of List D schools; and if he will make a statement.

A consultative paper on the future of the List D schools was issued on 9th December. Comments are still awaited from a number of bodies, and it will be some time yet before the consultations can be completed.

Is my hon. Friend aware that there is growing apprehension that a changeover from the education administration that is at present in operation may well result in the expertise of the educational provision built up over a period of years being lost, to the detriment of these disturbed young persons? Will my hon. Friend take further steps to avoid that sort of possibility ever happening?

This is one of the most important questions that we have in the consultative paper. My right hon. Friend is disposed to favour the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Social Work that responsibility for the List D schools should be with social work committees and that responsibility for education within those schools should remain with education committees. He will be considering the representations of interested bolies in this respect.

Is the Minister in any position to indicate any progress on making List D provision in the Highland Region, where there is none at present:?

Some months ago I met a representative group from the Highland Region who put the case to me. I pointed out that under the present financial constraints it was not possible to meet their objectives, although we discussed the question of phasing. I am prepared to have fuller discussions with them if they wish to come back.

Will my hon. Friend take cognisance of the fact that elimination of voluntary effort within the National Health Service resulted in a lessening of the efficiency of the service, and will he seek to ensure that voluntary effort in List D schools is able to continue?

I could not agree more with my hon. Friend. In the consultative document my right hon. Friend has mentioned this matter and has said that the voluntary aspect for List D schools is welcome, especially in respect of the Churches.

Does the Minister accept the overcrowding in List D schools throughout Scotland, particularly in the central belt? Does he recognise the problem that this poses for parents and for the local populace, and will he do something urgently to increase the number of places in List D schools?

I am sorry to correct the right hon. Lady, but the reverse is the case. There is no crowding in List D schools. [Interruption.] All the comments that I have received are to the effect that there is under-occupancy. Up to 28th February last, in fact, the average rate of occupancy was 87 per cent.