I have received no plan from the local education authority but I believe that proposals for the area of the King's Lynn divisional executive are under consideration and I hope that these will be submitted as soon as possible.
Is my right hon. Friend aware of the great concern among teachers and parents at the terrible delay and the consequent delays in the rebuilding of urgently needed schools? Will she use her good offices to expedite this reorganisation as quickly as possible?
Yes. We have been doing everything that we can. I hope that Norfolk will soon be able to let us have some proposals. My hon. Friend will know that I have deferred my decision on the secondary school building programme until we have a clearer indication of the local authority's intentions for reorganisation on comprehensive lines.
Does the Minister agree that there are special difficulties in Norfolk mainly related to a very large geographical spread of schools, which makes it difficult to put forward proposals? Can the right hon. Lady confirm that the authority has undertaken not to put forward any building proposals which are not compatible with the future reorganisation scheme? Also, I express the hope that the Minister will visit Norfolk next month.
I recognise there are difficulties in producing a scheme for the whole area at once. But I think that we could expect the local authority to produce schemes for particular divisional areas. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will shortly be visiting Norfolk for two days, and he will be able to see these at first hand.
My predecessors and I have made it clear to local education authorities that we expect them to have close and genuine consultation with teachers. Circular 10/65 suggests ways of achieving this but recognises that the precise arrangements cannot be prescribed from the centre.
I hope that the local authority will consult the teachers before arriving at any final plan. It is a case of holding the balance between the right and, indeed, the duty of the local authority to take decisions and its acceptance that teachers have a great deal of expertise and a great deal to contribute in the matter.