New School Building

Oral Answers to Questions — Education – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 30th October 1952.

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Photo of Mr Joseph Sparks Mr Joseph Sparks , Acton 12:00 am, 30th October 1952

asked the Minister of Education the capital cost of new school construction and extensions together with the additional school places to be provided in schemes approved since October, 1951; and what was the comparative figure for the period October, 1950 to October, 1951.

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

Between 1st October, 1951, and 30th September last new schools and other projects for primary and secondary education have been approved to a total value of £28,662,302. These projects will provide altogether 161,470 additional school places. Comparable figures for the period 1st October, 1950, to 30th September, 1951, were £41,520,978 and 210,780 places.

Photo of Mr Joseph Sparks Mr Joseph Sparks , Acton

Is the Minister not aware of the very serious congestion and overcrowding in many parts of the country, and that this very considerable reduction in the number of new schools and extensions is a very serious matter for the future education of our children?

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

Yes, but I am sure the hon. Gentleman will be glad to know that more school buildings are becoming available because we have started fewer buildings and we are completing them quicker. I am sure the hon. Gentleman will be interested in some figures which I shall give in answer to Question No. 14.

Photo of Mr Thomas Peart Mr Thomas Peart , Workington

Is the right hon. Lady aware that despite her answer the other week, the Government have deliberately starved school building of steel and that the allocation of steel this year is certainly less than it was under the Labour Government?

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

I do not know on what information the hon. Gentleman says that the amount of steel being used is less than it was under a previous Government. All I would say is that we have done more school building this year in the first six months than was done last year.

Photo of Mr Thomas Peart Mr Thomas Peart , Workington

Would the right hon. Lady give details of the steel allocated? Would she give us the figures of allocation this year compared with last year?

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

I could not give those figures. If the hon. Gentleman wishes to put any further Questions on the Order Paper I will certainly do my best to answer them.

Photo of Colonel Leonard Ropner Colonel Leonard Ropner , Barkston Ash

asked the Minister of Education the total amount spent during the first six months of 1952 on building new schools; and what were the comparable figures for 1950 and 1951.

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

During the first six months of 1952 capital expenditure totalling about £17.75 million was incurred in respect of work done on major school building projects under construction in England and Wales. The comparable figures for 1950 and 1951 are £9.9 million and £14.6 million respectively.

Photo of Colonel Leonard Ropner Colonel Leonard Ropner , Barkston Ash

While thanking my right hon. Friend for the information she has given, may I ask her if she can give an assurance that this very welcome increase is being continued during the second half of this year?

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

Yes, I think there is every sign that the buildings are going up more quickly than last year.

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

Can the Minister say how much of this sum was spent on actual new buildings started in 1952 and how much was being spent on projects begun under a Labour Administration?

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

I could not without notice, but, as I have said to the House more than once, what I am trying to do is to get on with buildings that have been started and get them completed instead of having too many started and too few completed.

Photo of Mr Herbert Williams Mr Herbert Williams , Croydon East

Will my right hon. Friend also make sure that some of the gross extravagance in recent school building is stopped?

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

Yes, but I would like to point out that during the time of my predecessor who found that the building was too extravagant there were reductions, and those reductions are going on.

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

Does not the right hon. Lady even yet understand that if she starts fewer buildings this year she will finish fewer next year and the year after?

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

If the right hon. Gentleman will look at the figures he will find that we are now dealing, in a great many cases, with schools that were started and which could not possibly be completed. If we start too many we shall not get them completed for a long time. Hitherto, it was taking three years to build secondary schools, but I opened one last week which had been built in 18 months.