Labor is demanding to see advice given to Rishi Sunak on the schools crisis

Labor will try to force the Government to hand over written advice given to the Prime Minister on collapsing concrete at schools while he was chancellor.

Concerns about reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (Raac) have prompted the partial or full closure of more than 100 schools in England.

Rishi Sunak has been embroiled in controversy after a schools minister suggested the Prime Minister approve the rebuilding of 50 schools a year when he was chancellor, rejecting a request for 200 to be given the same treatment.

Sir Keir Starmer's party plans to table a humble speech motion, an arcane parliamentary mechanism that can be used to request documents from government departments, to find out what Mr Sunak knew about construction problems in the education sector.



The Prime Minister is directly responsible for the crisis that has hit schools this week

Shadow Education Secretary Bridget Phillipson

Labour, during an Opposition Day debate in the Commons on Wednesday, will demand the publication of evidence sent by the Department for Education (DfE) to both No 10 and the Treasury over the crisis.

As part of the move, he will also push to see all relevant correspondence before the 2020 and 2021 spending reviews and the spring and autumn 2022 statements to show what advice Mr Sunak was given as chancellor about the need to replace Raac.

Shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson said: “It is scandalous that parents are still in the dark about the risks their children are taking at school because of Rishi Sunak's reckless decision to cut school rebuilding budgets, according to information against the advice of officials.

“The Prime Minister is directly responsible for the crisis that has hit schools this week, the chaos faced by families at the start of term and the disruption to children's learning.

“Today, we are giving Conservative MPs a choice: vote with Labor and give parents the right to know who is responsible for this mess, or vote to hide the true scale of this crisis and the Prime Minister's failure to keep our children safe. .”

On Tuesday, schools secretary Nick Gibb suggested that the Prime Minister, when chancellor in 2021, had moved on with other priorities in a request to increase funding to fix England's schools.

The DfE admitted that just four schools have been rebuilt so far under the scheme, which Mr Sunak has used in his defense in recent days, to repair 500 sites by 2030.

Separately, the Prime Minister has been accused by former DfE permanent secretary Jonathan Slater of refusing to fully fund a program to rebuild the country's crumbling schools when he was in the Treasury.

The former civil servant said up to 400 schools a year needed to be replaced, but that funding was given for 100 after Mr Sunak took the decision to “halve the size of the programme”.

But Mr Sunak told reporters this week that the attack on his file was “completely and completely wrong”.

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan, who has come under fire for her handling of the crisis, defended the Prime Minister's previous actions to protect the safety of school buildings.

He said: “As chancellor, the Prime Minister introduced the school rebuilding programs – delivering 500 schools over the next decade.

“Furthermore, the Conservatives have invested £15 billion in schools since 2015.

“Furthermore, capital expenditure this year will be nearly 29% higher in real terms than last year.

“An independent review found that Labour's school funding program was poorly targeted and complex.

“He did nothing to fix schools in bad shape, especially those affected by Raats. Instead, the Labour-led Welsh Government has sat on its hands and failed to act on schools in Wales.”