Tameside [1977]

Labour local education
authority planned to introduce comprehensive secondary schooling.
Local elections then won by
Conservative opposition, who changed plans and retained three grammar schools.
Secretary of State exercised
his power under the Education Act 1944 to direct authority to carry out
original plans, as to change would be too disruptive.
Secretary of State obtained
writ of mandamus to that effect in Divisional Court.
House of Lords held that
under Act local education authorities are entitled to have a policy.
Act does not enable Secretary
of State to make them abandon it just because he disagrees with it.
Secretary of State is not
merely exercising a discretion under Act, he is reviewing action of another
public body which itself had discretionary powers and duties.
Critical question is whether
change in course proposed by new council would lead to chaos or undue
disruption.
Mere possibility or
probability of disruption not enough.
Ultimate factual question in
case was whether the only reasonable
course would have been for authority to abandon its plans.
This must be answered in
negative.