School Building and Teacher Shortage

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 26th March 1963.

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Photo of Mr Frederick Willey Mr Frederick Willey , Sunderland North 12:00 am, 26th March 1963

What my hon. Friend says is quite right. I mentioned the 13 counties. The fact that six of them are Welsh shows how badly the Welsh have suffered. They have suffered badly, probably, because of the particular regard which they pay to education.

I mention three boroughs in particular— the right hon. Gentleman will know why I do so—Gateshead, Preston and Worcester. None of these three has received any allocation at all. In the Minister's White Paper top priority was accorded to the reorganisation to the all-age schools. These three boroughs are among the four worst authorities in the country for all-age schools, yet they do not get a single new school building from the Minister.

Let us look at the list a little further. I take the example of Yorkshire. It is not true, unfortunately, that every local education authority in Yorkshire is Labour. They are Labour and Tory. But all the Yorkshire education authorities subscribed to a resolution and sent a telegram to the Minister expressing their deep concern that these very severe reductions should be made at this time against the background of increased costs and the background of the reductions already made in the previous year's programme. We know, of course, that these authorities had reason to feel aggrieved. Almost without exception, they did not get even 50 per cent. of the work which they had declared themselves willing and able to carry out and which they believed to be necessary to implement the Government's policy.

I turn now to London. London was encouraged by the Government when they produced their White Paper, and it said that to carry out the Government's intentions it was willing and able to carry out the necessary programme amounting to £4 million each year. In fact, over the past three years, London has carried out programmes averaging £3,200,000. But it is an interesting index of the increase of school building costs that, although the programmes have averaged in cost £3,200,000, not a single programme is in volume greater than the originally sanctioned programme of £2,400,000. Lord Eccles cut that to £1¾ million. What has the present Minister done? Has he given London an allocation of £3,200,000? Has he given London an allocation of £2,400,000, or has he even given London the allocation of £1¾ million which Lord Eccles gave? The right hon. Gentleman has given London an allocation of £877,000, about half what Lord Eccles gave London under the duress of economic crisis.

Now I come nearer to the constituency of my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown). I have said that Derby has had no allocation whatever. The Director of Education for Derbyshire has published the figures for the county. In 1960–61, Derbyshire had an allocation of £830,000. In 1961–62, it had an allocation of £1 million, and in 1962–63 it had an allocation of £844,000. Along came Lord Eccles with his economy axe and Derbyshire got an allocation of £756,000. But what has the present Minister done? He has given Derbyshire an allocation of £446,000.

Finally, I turn to my own constituency. Sunderland, with its heavy unemployment, is in the heart of the unemployment area of the North. In Sunderland, we have had a massive school building programme since the end of the war. But—this is why I began as I did—we have to look at these things realistically. It is still the fact, in spite of the new schools, that one in every three children in Sunderland is being taught in a school which was built before the beginning of the century. About half our children in the secondary schools are being taught in schools built before the First World War. This is the measure of the neglect of the Tory Government before the war.

I have said before in the House that what oppresses me in education are the two nations of school children, those who go to the new schools and those who go to the old We could not find this situation more dramatically exposed than it is in Sunderland. We have the new schools all on the periphery, on the new housing estates, and in the heart of the town we have disgraceful and appalling slum schools. This is a condition, of course, which we can find repeated in almost every industrial urban area in the country.