Education (School-Building)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 1st July 1953.

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Photo of Dame Florence Horsbrugh Dame Florence Horsbrugh , Manchester Moss Side 12:00 am, 1st July 1953

We are dealing with the schools completed. I am glad to tell hon. Members that this year I confidently expect the 218,000 to increase to 250,000. That satisfactory result is described in the Report by the statement that this moratorium on new starts undoubtedly had an adverse effect. The adverse effect was that there were more school places ready for the children to go into.

There are several reasons why school building was so slow. I say at once that in 1949, when the Leader of the Opposition, who was then Prime Minister, announced that because of the financial crisis there had to be some slowing up of the advance, he also announced that a committee would be set up to go into the question of costs and design. I wish that the Labour Government had done that earlier, because by 1950 they began to cut down costs, which have gone down very considerably since then. We all know that one of the reasons for the very slow building was the design of the schools and also the organisation not getting the materials there.

The reason we are getting schools more quickly is, first, that we do not start too many so that we cannot complete them and, secondly, that we have new designs and good organisation for consultation between the Ministry and the local authorities. Here I would say that I thoroughly agree with the recommendations in the Report about maintaining and improving that organisation. The administrative arrangements set up by the Ministry of Education for dealing with this matter are given the highest commendation in the Report.

What has happened is that now there is a reduction of nearly 50 per cent. in the labour and materials for schools compared with 1949. In 1949, £1 million was the amount spent to produce 2,800 secondary school places. Now, for the £1 million, we get 3,800 secondary school places. If hon. Members examine the facts and figures they will find that costs have been brought down in the last two years. It began before—