Oral Answers to Questions — Education – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 2nd July 1959.
asked the Minister of Education if he will state the overall sum requested by local education authorities in England and Wales in each of the educational building programme years 1960–61 and 1961–62, and the amount of money allowed to them by him for these projects for each of the programme years specified.
£117 million for 1960–61 and £97 million for 1961–62, compared with £55 million and about £60 million as given in paragraph 22 of the recent White Paper.
Is not the Parliamentary Secretary aware from representations which he has received from different local education authorities that there is profound disappointment with the building programme for the next two years?
I do not believe that that is true of the whole country. If, as I sincerely hope, we complete these programmes in the time allocated to them, an enormous number of children will benefit. It is no good starting work on too many schools and then finding that the building programme gets hopelessly cut of phase.
asked the Minister of Education if he will state the total amount of money requested by local education authorities in England and Wales for their minor projects under the educational building programme, and the amount which has been allowed to them.
The total allocation to local education authorities for minor works for the current year is about £16 million. As explained in Circular 342, authorities were not on this occasion asked to put in formal requests, but informal consultation suggests that they would have liked to be free to undertake work costing rather more than £20 million.
In view of the policy outlined in the Government's White Paper "Secondary Education for All", will not the Parliamentary Secretary agree that local authorities are deeply disturbed that this new policy for building schools has fallen lamentably below that?
We are talking about minor works. I would add that a further £2 million has been allocated for non-local authority education purposes, that is to say, for aided and special agreement schools and corresponding special schools. It is no good having too big a figure for minor works for any one year because that would impose a great strain on county architects and all those responsible for planning. It is much better to strike a slightly more modest figure and complete the work in time.
It does not appear from the last four Answers that local authorities are enjoying the measure of freedom which they were led to suppose they would enjoy when the Local Government Act was introduced, does it?
I think that the hon. Gentleman is well aware that there was never any doubt when the Local Government Bill was going through this House that control of investment and of the educational building programme was to be maintained by the central Government. Neither my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government nor myself in any way misled the House about this, and therefore I do not think that the hon. Gentleman has a fair point.
Successive Governments since the war have always had to maintain a measure of control over the total size of the public sector, but, as the right hon. Gentleman knows very well, the size of investment in the public sector today in real terms is substantially bigger than ever before in our national history.