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City Technology Colleges

Volume 129: debated on Tuesday 15 March 1988

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To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science how much it will cost to build the city technology college in Nottingham; how much of the cost will be met by the Government; and if he will make a statement.

The cash limit for capital expenditure on the Nottingham city technology college is £9·05 million. This covers the cost of land, fixed furniture, equipment and professional fees as well as the cost of building. My right hon. Friend has agreed, exceptionally, to underwrite up to 85 per cent. of this figure. He is confident that the Nottingham CTC trust will contribute more than its minimum share of the capital costs through additional sponsorship.

Is the hon. Lady aware that there are 565 schools in Nottinghamshire, which have a capital programme now of £2·7 million as a result of the cuts instituted by the Government, and that more than £9 million is to be spent on imposing a CTC on the city of Nottingham? Is that because the hon. Lady cannot do her arithmetic, or is it because she is putting one college above the educational needs of all the children of Nottinghamshire?

The advantages that the city technology college will bring to the city of Nottingham and its environs are immeasurable. It will produce a large number of opportunities for good education for children who apparently are not able to receive that education at present. I suggest to the hon. Gentleman that the expenditure is well justified.

Does my hon. Friend not agree that, with 20,000 unemployed in Nottingham, it will be a small price to pay for the children's future?

I certainly agree with my hon. Friend that the education that will be received in the CTC will greatly improve the opportunities for employment for all the young people who are fortunate enough to participate in the education there.

Does the Minister recall the DES document that launched the CTC initiative, which said that the promoters would meet all or a substantial part of capital costs? Why, then, in the case of Nottingham is there such a shift in policy? Why are the Government meeting 85 per cent. of capital costs?

Sadly, it is because the local authority refused point blank to be co-operative in the matter of a building. In those local authorities where there has been co-operation in the matter of a building for the technology college, it has been perfectly possible for the Secretary of State to adhere to the original proposals.