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Comprehensive Education (Costs)

Volume 958: debated on Tuesday 14 November 1978

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asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will publish the extracts of running costs submitted to her by county councils which oppose comprehensive education or which propose alternative unacceptable schemes to her.

Local education authorities have been required to give details of the estimated capital costs of work necessary at each school at each stage of compre- hensive reorganisation when they submit proposals under section 2 of the Education Act 1976. They have not been required to provide comparable information in respect of running costs and I regret, therefore, that it is not possible to meet my hon. Friend's request.

Will my hon. Friend demand information about the running costs? Is she aware that there is a feeling that many Conservative councils are against new schemes simply because they cost too much to run? Is she aware that in my area, for instance, we want a three-tier system, but the Nottingham county council wants a two-tier system and the feeling is that the council wants that system because it means bigger classes and fewer schools and is much cheaper to run?

The information that I have on the scheme submitted for my hon. Friend's area suggests that the county council feels that its proposed system is slightly cheaper to run. Whether my hon. Friend is right in his deduction of the reasons for that, I cannot be sure without studying the proposals with more care.