asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what reply he has given or intends to give to the Birmingham local education authority regarding its request that the polytechnic school of music scheme be included in the 1980–81 further education capital programme and its suggestion that the Hands worth technical college project might be deferred if necessary resources were not available, and if he will make a statement.
I wish to consider fully all aspects of the situation and I shall reach a decision shortly.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Hands worth technical college has not only the worst accommodation of all the further education colleges in Birmingham, but that it also serves the most heavily deprived immigrant area, where there is considerable demand for further education facilities? Is he also aware that the proper utilization of phases 1 and 2 of the college, which are now being built, is dependent on the rapid conclusion of decisions to go ahead with the building of phase 3? Will he take all those matters into account?
I assure the hon. Lady that all those matters will be taken into account. The Government place great importance on projects in the field of non-advanced further education, such as the one at Hands worth technical college, where demand greatly exceeds capacity. At the same time, it appears that the Birmingham education committee would prefer to complete its school of music scheme. I have arranged to meet the chairman of the education committee within a week so that an urgent decision can be made. I shall bear in mind the representations of the hon. Lady.