School Building

Oral Answers to Questions — Education – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 6 March 1952.

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Photo of Mr James Johnson Mr James Johnson , Rugby 12:00, 6 March 1952

asked the Minister of Education the total value of building licences issued to independent schools for work done in their premises during 1951; and what is the value of building work licences for 1952.

Photo of Dame Florence Horsbrugh Dame Florence Horsbrugh , Manchester Moss Side

During 1951 building licences to the value of £1,979,000 were issued by the Ministry of Works on the recommendation of my Department. I estimate that about half of this total was for work at independent schools. No figures are yet available for 1952.

Photo of Mr James Johnson Mr James Johnson , Rugby

Is the Minister aware that many of these schools are in houses and buildings which are well below the standards expected by H.M. Inspectors and that they do need this attention? But if building cuts are to be endured by State schools, will she see that these independent schools also take their place in the queue besides them?

Photo of Dame Florence Horsbrugh Dame Florence Horsbrugh , Manchester Moss Side

If the hon. Member will read Circular 245 again he will see that exactly the same procedure applies to these schools.

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

asked the Minister of Education to ensure that the additional accommodation necessary for the increased school population will be available in 1953.

Photo of Dame Florence Horsbrugh Dame Florence Horsbrugh , Manchester Moss Side

I would refer the hon. Member to the answer which I gave the hon. Member for Ealing, South (Mr. Maude) on 28th February.

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

Does that reply mean that the Minister is completely satisfied that by 1953 all the necessary accommodation will be available?

Photo of Dame Florence Horsbrugh Dame Florence Horsbrugh , Manchester Moss Side

I am satisfied that the building programme should produce the number of extra school places that my predecessor was satisfied were necessary. I think he was right in his judgment of the extra number of school places—1,150,000.

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

asked the Minister of Education how many school building projects in England and Wales, respectively, are affected by her economy Circular 245.

Photo of Mr George Chetwynd Mr George Chetwynd , Stockton-on-Tees

asked the Minister of Education how many schools originally contained in the uncompleted educational building programme for 1951–52 and the programme for 1952–53 have been excluded from the revised programme for 1952–53; and how many school places, in primary, secondary and technical schools does this represent.

Photo of Dame Florence Horsbrugh Dame Florence Horsbrugh , Manchester Moss Side

I regret that I cannot give this information until discussions with all local education authorities have been completed and the whole of the revised school building programme for 1952–53 has been settled.

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

Can the Minister say how long we shall have to wait before we know how many school building projects in Wales will be brought to a standstill?

Photo of Dame Florence Horsbrugh Dame Florence Horsbrugh , Manchester Moss Side

I cannot say exactly when this full information can be given because we are communicating with each local authority and it depends how long these discussions take. I assure the hon. Gentleman that I will give him the information as soon as I have it.

Photo of Mr George Chetwynd Mr George Chetwynd , Stockton-on-Tees

Has not the ban on school building for three months and the consequent late starting dates dissipated the building force? In those circumstances will the right hon. Lady be able to complete the projects which have been set down?

Photo of Dame Florence Horsbrugh Dame Florence Horsbrugh , Manchester Moss Side

Yes. With the stopping of new starts I think we shall be able to complete the buildings that we require by the end of this year. The fact that we have concentrated on completing buildings under construction will, I think, be more satisfactory than having a larger programme of buildings not completed.

Photo of Mr George Tomlinson Mr George Tomlinson , Farnworth

Is the right hon. Lady aware that the figures which she admits are correct were based upon a programme which has now been suspended?

Photo of Dame Florence Horsbrugh Dame Florence Horsbrugh , Manchester Moss Side

I quite agree. The figure of 1,150,000 that the right hon. Gentleman thought sufficient is the basis for my programme. I do not think that we should have had that completed—and we certainly would not have had the 400,000 places required at the end of this year—if we had allowed new starts without completing the work already under construction.

Photo of Mr Ralph Morley Mr Ralph Morley , Southampton, Itchen

asked the Minister of Education the total amounts spent on school building for the financial years 1948–49, 1949–50, 1950–51, 1951–52; and the estimated amount that will be spent from 1952–53.

Photo of Dame Florence Horsbrugh Dame Florence Horsbrugh , Manchester Moss Side

Capital expenditure on school building is recorded by calendar years. The sum invested on major projects was £12 million in 1948, £16.5 million in 1949, £29 million in 1950 and £37 million in 1951. The forecast of investment in 1952 is £36.5 million.

Photo of Mr Norman Dodds Mr Norman Dodds , Dartford

asked the Minister of Education why she has given instructions to the Kent County Council to hold up the building of 14 proposed schools in view of the difficulty now being experienced with regard to school accommodation and the greatly increased school population to be catered for in the next two years; and what proposed schools are affected.

Photo of Dame Florence Horsbrugh Dame Florence Horsbrugh , Manchester Moss Side

The reasons for revising the 1952–53 school building programme are explained in Circular 245, of which I am sending the hon. Member a copy. The revised programme for Kent has not yet been settled, and I cannot say exactly which projects will be deferred.

Photo of Mr Norman Dodds Mr Norman Dodds , Dartford

But is not the Minister aware that the Chairman of the Kent Education Committee, a Conservative, has said that, as a result of instructions from the Minister of Education, school building in Kent will come to a dead stop, 14 proposed schools will not be built, 4,000 primary and secondary school places will be lost, and that this is a serious blow? Will she give an assurance that at least the urgently needed Erith Grammar School, about which she gave such an optimistic reply some months ago, will not be held up at all?

Photo of Dame Florence Horsbrugh Dame Florence Horsbrugh , Manchester Moss Side

I think it is known that the Kent authority had got on very well with their building. At the end of 1951 they had provided about 40,000 new places, and nearly another 15,000 were under construction. [An HON. MEMBER: Why not answer the question?"] In answering the question I am giving the facts. We have not yet decided with the Kent authority what the school building programme will be, but it will be directed to the same aims as there are in the areas of other local authorities—to the providing of places on new housing areas and where there is an extra school population.

Photo of Mr Norman Dodds Mr Norman Dodds , Dartford

As that is one of the most shocking answers I have ever heard—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—I give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment—to convince hon. Members opposite.

Photo of Sir John Langford-Holt Sir John Langford-Holt , Shrewsbury

On a point of order. The hon. Member has just given notice that he will raise the matter on the Adjournment in words which, I understand, Mr. Speaker, contravene a Ruling of your predecessor, which stated quite clearly that the correct words to be used were, "In view of the unsatisfactory nature of that reply—" and so on.

Photo of Mr William Morrison Mr William Morrison , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

I do not ask hon. Members, when they ask supplementary questions, to leave out of their questions words of an objurgatory character. It does not expedite business. The word "shocking" is capable of several connotations. I took it to mean, in this case, that the hon. Member found that the answer came as a shock to him.