Oral Answers to Questions — Education – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 7th May 1959.
asked the Minister or Education how many new primary and secondary schools, respectively. are now required in England and Wales to provide all children with adequate, modern premises.
Is the hon. Member aware of the anxiety among education authorities at 'the serious drop in the number of schools under construction in Britain in the last two years, a drop for which the Government are responsible, and of the immediate necessity of constructing more schools, especially in those areas where new housing estates are developing? Will he keep this matter under constant review and undertake 'to give an estimate of 'the size of this problem?
Under the policy set out in the White Paper, it will be possible to make a start on taking out of use an increasing number of very bad, old school buildings. That is one of the main objectives of that policy. The Question speaks of "adequate, modern premises ", and I think that the hon. Gentleman will agree that is extremely difficult to give an estimate when the Question is phrased in such general terms.
Surely the hon. Gentleman can tell the House how many school building applications have been made and have been refused by the Government, including a large number of premises urgently required in Oldham for which permission has not yet been obtained in:a year in which the Government are talking about expansion and freeing purchasing power.
If the hon. Gentleman puts down a Question about Oldham, or raises wider matters, of course I will try to answer and to give him the figures. However, we should remember that, since the war, successive Governments have had to concentrate the school building programme on providing places for children who would not otherwise have been able to go to school at all. We agree that what is wanted now is to make a start on getting rid of some of the worst of the old insanitary school buildings.