Mr. Edward M. Taylor:
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a further statement on the discussions which he has had with Glasgow and Edinburgh Corporations about the future of their fee-paying and selective schools.
The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Bruce Milan):
My Department wrote to Edinburgh and Glasgow Corporations on 23rd January asking them to consider amendments to their scheme of transfer and educational provision to take account of the 1969 Education (Scotland) Act which removes the power to charge fees for school education at schools managed by them. Edinburgh requested a discussion, which was held on 20th February. I now have replies from both authorities, and I am considering these.
Will the hon. Gentleman assure us that while he considers these proposals he will stop bullying and badgering the democratically-elected bodies in Edinburgh and Glasgow?
I would not accept for one moment that I have been bullying and badgering anyone on this. I certainly intend to give the replies full consideration, but I would hope that some kind of announcement would be made about the result of that consideration quite shortly.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that many people are out- raged at the Government not only for depriving them of freedom of choice but more particularly for the way in which they have kicked in the teeth two of Scotland's largest local authorities which are perfectly capable of making up their own minds on this matter?
I am not aware that there is a large number of people who are outraged. I am aware that a large number of people in Scotland fully support the Government's determination to introduce comprehensive reorganisation because they are aware of the wastage involved in the selective system.
Is my hon. Friend aware that as we in Midlothian have no fee-paying schools, and because we live close to Edinburgh, many people are leaving Edinburgh and coming to live in Midlothian because of the education set-up there?
I am aware of the excellent education record of the Midlothian authority, and I am very much looking forward to opening a large new comprehensive school in Midlothian this Friday.