Speeches, etc.

Margaret Thatcher

HC PQ [Education and Science]

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: House of Commons
Source: Hansard HC [791/585-606]
Editorial comments: 1430-c1450. MT spoke at c591.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 7764
Themes: Education, Pay
[column 585]


Nursery Education

1. Mr. Moonman

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what was the total expenditure on nursery education for the years 1960–61, 1965–66, 1967–68 and 1968–69, respectively; and what plans he has for expansion in the coming year.

The Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science (Miss Joan Lestor)

Expenditure on nursery schools by local authorities in England and Wales rose from £2.5 million in 1960–61 to £3.4 million in 1965–66, £3.8 million in 1967–68 and £4.0 million in 1968–69. Figures for expenditure on nursery classes are not available. 10,000 additional nursery places—mostly in nursery classes—in deprived areas have been included in the first two phases of the urban programme this year, at a cost of nearly £3 million.

Mr. Moonman

I am grateful for that information which, in part, is most encouraging. Does not my hon. Friend feel that while the fact that one child in nine in the 3 to 5 age group goes to nursery school is depressing enough, the fact that there is uneven distribution throughout the country so that in London the administrative county has 68 places per [column 586]1,000 and Lancashire has only 27 places per 1,000 demands serious attention?

Miss Lestor

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. I would only add to my original answer that we are aware of the uneven distribution and that this is a matter of concern to us. However, we accept the Plowden recommendation that expansion in the nursery school sphere, the first expansion for many years, should start in the deprived areas. We are all aware that one can find deprived children in areas which are not obviously deprived; and, clearly, we want in future to try to secure nursery school education for all children.

Mr. J. E. B. Hill

I congratulate the hon. Lady on her appointment. Is it known what proportion the 10,000 new places to be made available represent of the ascertained need for nursery school places in the deprived areas?

Miss Lestor

I cannot give the hon. Gentleman a detailed answer off the cuff. If he will table a Question I will get the information for him.

Guildford School of Art

2. Mr. Moonman

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will implement the recommendations of the Select Committee on Education to institute a detailed inquiry into the Guildford School of Art.

50. Mr. Christopher Price

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will implement the recommendations of the Select Committee on Education and Science to institute an inquiry into Guildford College of Art.

The Minister of State, Department of Education and Science (Mr. Gerald Fowler)

My right hon. Friend's statutory powers to hold an inquiry under the present law and the limitations on them were described in detail by my predecessor in a written reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Billericay (Mr. Moonman) on 30th April—[Vol. 782, cols. 247–9.] We have no proposals for further legislation at present.

Mr. Moonman

Certainly my Questions will be as consistent as those answers. Is my hon. Friend aware that the Select Committee has drawn attention [column 587]to what is a public scandal? Would he try to arrange some consultation with the Department of Employment and Productivity in an effort to help the employment position of the staff, which is quite disgraceful?

Mr. Fowler

It is a little hard to describe the present statutory position as a public scandal. Local education authorities have certain responsibilities and it is important that we should not deprive them of those responsibilities without due consideration.

Mr. Christopher Price

Is my hon. Friend aware that this issue will not lie down until his Department does something about it? While I congratulate him on his new appointment, may I ask him to say why, if the Government could inquire into a private firm like Bristol Siddeley as the result of a Select Committee's Report, they cannot inquire into a publicly-financed body in such an utterly scandalous case as this?

Mr. Fowler

The reason we cannot inquire into it is perfectly simple and has been stated time and again. There are no statutory powers to do so. I must insist that we in this country have a system that has grown up over the years by which responsibility for educational provision is shared among a number of bodies. There may be a case for change, but it would be unwise to make changes on the basis of a particular event in a particular place.

Schools, Dorset

3. Mr. Wingfield Digby

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many places have been provided in new schools in Dorset in the last year, or reprovided in new accommodation; and how this compares with the national average.

The Minister of State, Department of Education and Science (Miss Alice Bacon)

1,860; the national total was 365,000.

Mr. Digby

While recognising the preoccupation of the Government with the fast-growing areas, at any rate in some respects, may I ask whether the right hon. Lady is aware how bad some of our school buildings are in Dorset and [column 588]that she always seems to be putting us at the end of a queue?

Miss Bacon

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will be pleased to know that my right hon. Friend has today invited local education authorities to submit proposals for a continuous and systematic review of improvements and replacements of old schools, beginning in 1971–72, when about £15 million will be available for the purpose.

Youth Leaders

5. Mr. Fortescue

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will take steps to assist local authorities to recruit and to retain youth leaders who, although not formally qualified, have demonstrated by their work and experience their suitability for vacant posts in this field.

Miss Lestor

The terms of employment of youth leaders are agreed between the employing bodies and the staff associations concerned and are embodied in “The Sixth Report of the Joint Negotiating Committee for Youth Leaders and Community Centre Wardens” , issued in June this year. In addition to formal qualifications, the agreement allows the recognition for qualified leadership of such other qualifications in individual cases as the Committee and my right hon. Friend may approve from time to time. Recognition under this clause is given in cases which allow for the maintenance of professional standards.

Mr. Fortescue

I should also like to congratulate the hon. Lady on her appointment. Is she aware that, in Liverpool and, no doubt, many other places, there is a grave shortage of youth leaders and that men and women are coming forward who have no formal qualifications but who, by their experience, are eminently suitable to do this very difficult work, but that difficulties are being placed in their way because the local authorities cannot claim from central Government the necessary grant in aid to help to pay them?

Miss Lestor

Perhaps I could tell the hon. Gentleman, first, that 16 applications for recognition under that part of the negotiating machinery which takes into account suitability rather than qualifications were received and four of these [column 589]were approved. We are very much aware of the maldistribution of youth leaders in various parts of the country and of course the whole question of the youth service is now being discussed by the Department.


6. Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is the minimum age at which within the system of State education he is prepared to accept selection on the basis of academic ability for the purpose of determining at which educational institution a student shall continue his or her studies.

The Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. Edward Short)

It is the Government's policy that children of school age should not be segregated in different schools as a result of selection based on ability or aptitude.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Does the right hon. Gentleman recall that, a year ago, he said that he was out to abolish selection at the age of 11, yet he accepts it for university entry purposes at 17 to 18? Can he not say whether there is not a point between those ages at which selection on grounds of ability is satisfactory to him?

Mr. Short

The right hon. Gentleman is a bit behind the times. He will have noticed that we have set up a number of polytechnics which are comprehensive institutions of higher education. I myself share the view of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Technology that, eventually, we will have comprehensive universities as well.

Secondary Schools, Kingston-upon-Thames

7. Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will now approve the necessary work on the two secondary schools in the Royal Borough of Kingston-upon-Thames which was previously approved by him and in respect of which he subsequently withdrew approval.

Miss Bacon

No, Sir. The reasons why I am unable to include these two projects in the major school building programme have already been explained to the right hon. Gentleman and the circumstances have not changed.

[column 590]

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

In view of the fact that her right hon. Friend thinks that he will have enough funds available to provide for comprehensive universities, does not the right hon. Lady think that it might be possible for him to find money for two schools which he and his authorities approved over two years ago?

Miss Bacon

The right hon. Gentleman knows that he raised this on an Adjournment debate and that we had a very long discussion. I was able to show then that there was no overall shortage of places in the Borough of Kingston. In any case, even if it had been allowed on other grounds, we asked Kingston to show how these schools would be compatible with a reorganisation scheme of secondary education. As yet, we have not heard from them.

Teachers' Salaries

9. Mr. Biffen

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is the current position regarding the claim by teachers for salary increases; what is the estimated annual cost to public funds in meeting the claim in full; and if he will make a statement.

39. Mr. Kenneth Lewis

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what estimate he has made of the amount needed in a General Grant (Increase) Order to cover the present claim of the teachers for a salary increase.

Mr. Edward Short

I estimate that the teachers' claim of a flat-rate increase of £135 from 1st April, 1970, would add approximately £44 million or 8½ per cent. to the salaries bill in 1970–71 for full-time qualified teachers in maintained primary and secondary schools. This would be in addition to the £33 million which was the cost of the 7⅛ per cent. award on 1st April this year. Negotiations on the claim are still in progress in the Burnham Committee.

The question of a Rate Support Grant (Increase) Order will be for consideration in the light of whatever settlement is eventually reached. For 1970–71 the appropriate grant percentage is 57 per cent.

Mr. Biffen

In respect of the initiatives which the right hon. Gentleman himself [column 591]is able to take in this very unhappy situation, would he reflect upon the fact that emphasis on a flat-rate increase will do nothing to bring about a more satisfactory career structure in the teaching profession?

Mr. Short

The structure of the salary scales is for the Burnham Committee, of course, and not for me.

Mr. Marks

Is my right hon. Friend aware that some of us who strongly support the need for a pay increase for teachers, especially at the younger end, nevertheless strongly disapprove of the unions' encouragement of wildcat half-day and one-day strikes, because we think that this is harmful to the teachers' case, to the children and particularly to working mothers? Will he take note of that?

Mr. Short

I take note of what my hon. Friend says, although he will not expect me to comment on it. I am, of course, a party to the negotiations which are still going on. All I would point out is that, on 1st April this year, the teachers signed an agreement, freely negotiated, which gave them 7⅛ per cent. increase. They were recently offered very nearly 3½ per cent. increase, so this will have been almost an 11 per cent. increase in one year. I should not have called that derisory. However, I do not want to comment on what is going on at the moment.

Mrs. Thatcher

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman two quick points? First, has he yet indicated to the management panel of Burnham a global sum within which negotiations must continue? I am not asking him what the sum is but only whether he has indicated a global sum. Second, will he condemn, in the strongest possible terms, any sudden strike which puts the safety of the children in jeopardy because parents have not been able to make alternative arrangements?

Mr. Short

First of all, may I congratulate the hon. Lady on her appointment and hope that we will have many passages across this Table? I am sure that she would not expect me to comment on the first point which she raised. On the second, I would very much deprecate any strike which put any children in danger or caused difficulty for parents of the kind she mentioned.

[column 592]

Mr. Shinwell

Would my right hon. Friend be surprised to learn that some of us, myself in particular, deplore the fact that—apart from teachers going on strike—the general body of teachers who are qualified and undergo extensive training are underpaid? When dustmen and others, because they go on strike, can obtain substantial increases, why should not teachers receive salary increases consistent with their qualifications?

Mr. Short

As I have said, if the teachers had accepted the initial offer of the management panel of the Burnham Committee, they would have had nearly an 11 per cent. increase this year.

Mr. Montgomery

Does not the right hon. Gentleman feel that someone's attention should be directed to the need to change the salary structure and to try to ensure that those who stay in the profession for a very long time get the rewards to which they are entitled?

Mr. Short

Salary structure is a matter for the Burnham Committee and it is examined every two years when they negotiate new scales.

Overseas Students (Boarding Costs)

10. Mr. Howie

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will withdraw circular F1/56/02, Boarding Charges for Students Coming From Outside England and Wales who Reside in Hostels Attached to Further Education Establishments.

Mr. Fowler

I do not think that local education authorities in England and Wales should bear the boarding costs of students who come from elsewhere.

Mr. Howie

Yes, but would my hon. Friend not agree that this circular not only discriminates against “foreigners” as they are called, but also between students in universities and those in polytechnics?

Mr. Fowler

No, Sir. There are different arrangements for the different sectors of higher education. I cannot agree that this circular to which my hon. Friend refers discriminates against foreigners. The circular, which was issued in May, 1968, did not enunciate any new principle but reminded authorities that, since 1955, the policy had been to charge the full economic cost of boarding for [column 593]students from outside England and Wales.

Mrs. Ewing

Are Scottish students treated as foreigners under the circular? I had one case at a college reported to me in which this was so. Is the hon. Gentleman aware that in Scotland English students are not treated as foreigners for the purpose of deciding what money they should receive?

Mr. Fowler

There are separate arrangements. Scottish students who attend courses at further education establishments in England and Wales and live in the college hostel have the difference between the fee charged to the home student and the full economic cost met by the Scottish Education Department if they are holders of awards under the students' allowance scheme. Far from showing that Scotsmen are foreigners, the arrangements show that there is no discrimination against foreigners in that Scotsmen and Irishmen come into the same category as those who come from overseas.

School Building, Bishop


11. Mr. Boyden

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what was the value of new school building completed in the Bishop Auckland constituency during the last three years.

Miss Bacon

The value was £284,000 between October, 1966, and September, 1969.

Mr. Boyden

Will my right hon. Friend consider increasing the programme in this area so that the James I Grammar School, which is being converted to a comprehensive school, may have a good start?

Miss Bacon

In addition to the work already completed, the value of work under construction is £233,000, and other work for 1969–70 and 1970–71 amounts to nearly £200,000, in addition to which in my hon. Friend's constituency a further amount totalling £542,000 will be available out of the money referable to the raising of the school leaving age. I understand that the work which my hon. Friend contemplates should be finished to enable this school to go comprehensive by 1973.

[column 594]


12. Mr. Hunt

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if his Department will take steps to commission the making of a film for use in secondary schools, illustrating the dangers and ill effects of drug taking.

Miss Bacon

Education on drug dependence is at present being considered by the Health Education Council, which is giving particular attention to the relative value of various media, including films, and I shall give urgent attention to its findings.

Mr. Hunt

In the meantime, would not a film of this kind be a useful way of drawing the attention of teenages in a vivid and effective manner to the dangers of drug taking and to the physical and mental disintegration of those who become addicted, particularly to hard drugs? Will she do everything she can to encourage the early making of such a film, which could be set in this country?

Miss Bacon

We ourselves cannot make the film, but I agree that this is an important and urgent matter. The hon. Gentleman can rest assured that I shall take any necessary steps to try to prevent drug taking in schools.

Mrs. Renée Short

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind also that, apart from the question of children's health, there is a serious and urgent need to give help and guidance to both parents and teachers in recognising the signs of addiction in school children? The hon. Gentleman's suggestion might well help in this direction, too.

Miss Bacon

The recent booklet which we published had a chapter on that very subject for teachers, but I shall bear in mind what my hon. Friend says.

15. Mr. Michael McNair-Wilson

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will issue a circular to education authorities about the dangers of drug taking.

Miss Bacon

Advice is already given in “The Handbook of Health Education” published last year and is available also from Her Majesty's Inspectorate and my Department's medical [column 595]officers. I am considering whether further steps are necessary.

Mr. McNair-Wilson

Now that drugs have become a major problem among young people, that is not really sufficient. Does the right hon. Lady realise that many headmasters in my constituency, for example, say that they do not know what to tell their pupils, in particular about the dangers of cannabis? They find the present body of knowledge and advice terribly vague and they long for a clear directive from the Department which could give them guidelines at least on what to teach their pupils.

Miss Bacon

It may be that the chapter in the booklet to which I referred has not been read by all teachers. The very advice for which the hon. Gentleman asks is given in the booklet, but I shall, as I have said, see whether anything further is necessary specifically on the subject of drugs, apart from that book.

Pre-School Playgroups Association

13. Mr. Pardoe

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a statement about his Department's support for the Pre-School Playgroups Association.

32. Mr. J. E. B. Hill

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will extend the period of the grant, at present limited to three years, towards the salary and expenses of the national advisers on Pre-School Playgroups.

Miss Lestor

The Department's grant to the Pre-School Playgroups Association towards its administrative costs and the provision of an advisory service will be increased from £3,000 this year to £3,500 in 1970–71.

Mr. Pardoe

In view of the immensely valuable work which the association does and the need for full-time professional help in organising valuable voluntary efforts, does the hon. Lady consider that that is a sufficiently generous increase?

Miss Lestor

I think the hon. Gentleman knows that I am a full supporter of the playgroup movement. At present, the whole future of playgroups and the under-fives is under discussion. The [column 596]Plowden Report recommended that local education authorities should be empowered to aid playgroups, and the Seebohm Report, more recently, recommended that playgroups should be the responsibility of the new Social Services Department. We are considering those recommendations. What changes we can make in our aid in the future will depend on the outcome of the discussions which we hold on the recommendations.

Mr. Hill

What is the hon. Lady doing to encourage the provision of training courses for people who work with playgroups at different levels of qualification, from N.N.E.B. downwards?

Miss Lestor

One of the difficulties regarding the playgroup movement is that it is not really the responsibility of the Department of Education and Science, and that people running playgroups register with the local health authority; but we encourage the setting up of training courses, and many colleges and institutions in various parts of the country are already instituting small or sometimes fairly large training courses for people who wish to run playgroups. I regard this as important.

Mr. Snow

My hon. Friend's work in this matter is recognised throughout the House. Is she aware that in many of the great overspill receiving areas, especially the West Midlands, it is difficult for playgroups to be started because of the lack of suitable accommodation? Might not other Departments help in this matter?

Miss Lestor

I thank my hon. Friend for his kind remarks, and also—I am sorry that I omitted to do so earlier—the other hon. Members who congratulated me on my appointment.

I accept that there is that difficulty in the development of playgroups. Although local education authorities cannot make grants directly to playgroups, it is possible for them—and many do—to lend equipment and in some instances make accommodation available to the playgroup movement and to people who run playgroups. I hope that they will look into this further and try to renew and increase their efforts in that direction.

Higher Education

16. Mr. Lane

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what [column 597]consultations he has had about the development of higher education in the 1970s; and whether he will make a statement.

42. Mr. Hornby

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what consultations he is having about the organisation of higher education in the 1970s.

Mr. Fowler

My predecessor recently discussed with the University Grants Committee and the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals the development and organisation of higher education in the 1970s. I have it in mind to hold similar informal discussions with other interested parties in the coming months.

Mr. Lane

I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on his translation to higher education.

Does he agree that this would be an eminently suitable subject for a Green Paper in due course, which could be debated by the House, and will he keep in mind in particular, before the Government put proposals forward, the paramount importance in the universities of maintaining maximum academic freedom?

Mr. Fowler

I take the hon. Gentleman's last point, and the answer is, “Of course” . As for a Green Paper, we recognise that the U.G.C., the individual universities and the rest of higher education will need to know the Government's decisions in these matters in the course of the next year, and we shall consider publishing a Green Paper, a White Paper, or a White Paper with a greenish tinge.

Mr. Hornby

Is it the Government's present intention that a similar proportion of the school leaving age group with the appropriate qualifications will continue to be able to have access to higher education places?

Mr. Fowler

The difficulty with that question is that it is not entirely in the control of the Government. Admission to the maintained sector of higher education is almost certain to follow the present pattern, whatever the Government's decision. We certainly hope that provision can be made for people with the same qualifications as those at present [column 598]receiving higher education to continue to have higher education over the course of the next decade, but we have to recognise that there is a problem here because the numbers are likely to be very large.

Mr. Leslie Huckfield

I congratulate my hon. Friend on his new appointment. May I stress the concern of many of those in higher education about the workings of the so-called binary policy? In view of the findings of the recent Select Committee on higher education and the testimony of faith in the comprehensive university of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State this afternoon, what modifications of the binary policy has the Department in mind?

Mr. Fowler

I am familiar with my hon. Friend's interest in the matter, going back over many years. He should not get hooked on a name. We need a variety of institutions of higher education catering for a variety of needs and a variety of students, no two of whom are the same. I hope that we shall not see a hierarchy of esteem between institutions in higher education, but rather a variety of functions.

Teacher Training

17. Mr. Lane

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what proposals he has for improving the quality of teacher training.

49. Mr. Bryant Godman Irvine

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will set up an inquiry into colleges of education and publish the report and recommendations.

51. Mr. Christopher Price

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what proposals he has for improving the quality of teacher training.

Mr. Edward Short

In recent years colleges of education have nearly trebled their output, extended the two-year course to three years and introduced a four-year course, leading to B.Ed. degree. These are substantial achievements. I regard many recent criticisms of the courses they offer as misconceived and based on inadequate evidence. The college themselves with the co-operation and advice of H.M. Inspectorate are constantly adapting and modifying their courses to make them more relevant to the changing [column 599]methods and patterns of organisation in schools. I am considering how best they can be assisted in this task. A general inquiry is among the possibilities but I am doubtful whether this would be the best course.

Mr. Lane

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind the very real concern about this matter inside and outside the teaching profession, and keep in mind the desirability, as a first step, of a short but searching inquiry in which his Department might be able to take part?

Mr. Short

It is one of the in things in education now to demand an inquiry into teacher training. There may be a case for looking at the relevance of the training to the changing methods and changing organisation in the schools. What I am very anxious to do is not to go back to the sort of situation we had 50 years ago, when teachers were turned out as craftsmen, but badly educated. Colleges have today both to train teachers and to educate them.

Mr. Godman Irvine

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this matter is being increasingly put forward by those who do not wish to take a militant stand about it?

Mr. Short

It is put forward by a great many people. I examine all the evidence, and there is not all that much evidence about. I think that the young teachers coming out are probably better than they have ever been.

Mr. Price

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the distinction which exists now between the 20 per cent. or so of students in colleges who are going on to a four-year course and a B.Ed. and those only doing a three-year course is a divisive and unsatisfactory element in the college? If he will not have an inquiry, what proposals has he for increasing the number of B.Ed. students within the colleges until it is 100 per cent.?

Mr. Short

I did not say that I would not have an inquiry. I said very carefully that this was one of the things I was looking at. It would be wrong to impose on the colleges, after all they have achieved in the past five years, and the considerable upset they have had, an enormous inquiry which would take three [column 600]or four years and be out of date by the time it was published. That is all I said about that.

Mr. van Straubenzee

Might not at least a contribution to the discussion be made if the Select Committee were encouraged to go on with its proposals, as it has reported to the House, for an inquiry into part of this subject? Will the right hon. Gentleman use his considerable influence to ensure that the Committee is set up again speedily?

Mr. Short

I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House will read what the hon. Gentleman has said. If he does not, I will make sure that it is called to his attention.

Select Committee on Education and Science (Report)

18. Mr. van Straubenzee

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what proposals he has for implementing the recommendations of the Report of the Select Committee on Education and Science on universities and colleges and their relations with students.

Mr. Edward Short

This Report makes some very far-reaching suggestions for changing the organisation and government of higher education. These suggestions will no doubt be studied by a great many people. The hon. Members will not expect me to announce a new policy or major legislation on these matters today.

Mr. van Straubenzee

While the House would naturally accept the Secretary of State's last words, may I ask whether he has been able at least to give a preliminary costing to the Select Committee's Report, with particular reference to bringing a common level to students' union grants?

Mr. Short

I think that the Select Committee made 58 recommendations altogether. A great many are not for the Government but for the universities and colleges. However, we are looking at them very carefully. We have not done the costing, but the hon. Gentleman will be pleased to know that what we are costing is the 156 recommendations that have come during the past 12 months from the party opposite for increased expenditure.

[column 601]

Newly-Qualified Teachers


19. Mrs. Renée Short

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many teachers who left colleges of education in the summer are still without suitable employment; and how many of these are primary and secondary trained.

Mr. Edward Short

Exact figures are not available but it is likely that very few newly-qualified teachers who are willing to go where the jobs are can still be without suitable employment and that this applies even to immobile teachers. Further vacancies will, of course, occur in January.

Mrs. Short

Is my right hon. Friend aware that his reply will give some satisfaction to those of us who did not believe the propaganda that there would be 5,000 teachers looking for jobs at the beginning of this term? As this may nevertheless have had a slightly depressing effect on recruitment of teachers, will my right hon. Friend continue his efforts to attract more suitable students to the teaching profession, particularly to produce the nursery teachers for the expansion of nursery education which many of us want to see?

Mr. Short

I am glad my hon. Friend said that, because the rumours, certainly in many cases malicious, about the number of teachers who would be unemployed both last year and this year, which I said were unfounded and have proved to be so, certainly had an influence on the recruitment of teachers. I hope the fact that all the teachers have obtained jobs this year and last year, and will do so next year, will encourage any young people who want to come into teaching to do so.

Mr. Gibson-Watt

Can the right hon. Gentleman give the figures for Wales?

Mr. Short

Not without notice.

Secondary and Comprehensive Schools

(G.C.E. Examinations)

20. Mrs. Renée Short

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many O and A level passes in the General Certificate of Education examination were obtained by pupils in secondary schools in 1963 and 1968, respectively; [column 602]and how many of these were obtained by pupils in comprehensive schools.

Miss Bacon

The number of G.C.E. O-level passes obtained by school-leavers in maintained secondary schools rose from 750,550 in 1962–63 to 860,220 in 1967–68; the number of A-level passes from 104,720 to 162,100. In comprehensive schools alone, the comparable figures were, for O-level, from 35,070 to 150,040; for A-levels from 3,720 to 27,430.

Mrs. Short

I am very grateful for that reply. Does not the evidence my right hon. Friend has put forward damn for ever the flat-earth opposition of the party opposition to the principle of comprehensive education?

Miss Bacon

I agree.


23. Mr. Hunt

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will seek powers to prevent the universities from requiring an O level General Certificate of Education pass in Latin as a condition for a university place.

Mr. Fowler

No, Sir, but I hope universities will keep their entrance requirements under constant review.

Mr. Hunt

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that it is totally absurd, for example, that a student wanting to read music at Bristol, Durham or Exeter cannot do so unless he or she has an O-level pass in Latin? Is not the universities' continued insistence on this dreary and archaic language—[Hon. Members: “No.” ]—a most undesirable form of academic sadism?

Mr. Fowler

As, I think, one of the better Latinists in the House, I must defend the language against the charge of being dreary and uninteresting. But, although this is a matter entirely for the individual university authorities, I hope that they will give due and serious consideration to whether Latin is a requisite for particular courses. It may well be for some English or modern language courses, but I think that in many areas they could have another look at this.

Mr. Hogg

Will the hon. Gentleman take note of the fact that not all hon. [column 603]Members on this side of the House would endorse my hon. Friend's description of the Latin language?

Mr. Fowler

Nor on this side.

Housing the Arts Fund

24. Mr. Arnold Shaw

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many projects have received or been promised financial aid from the Housing the Arts Fund; what is the total commitment from the fund to date; and what is the comparable commitment by local authorities and the private sector.

The Minister of State, Department of Education and Science (Miss Jennie Lee)

The Arts Council has made or promised grants totalling £2,250,000 to 109 projects. The total cost of these projects is about £10,500,000 so that the contribution from local authority and private sources amounts to about £8,250,000.

Mr. Shaw

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply and for the great effort made by the Government in this respect. Is my right hon. Friend entirely satisfied that sufficient is being given by local authorities and private funds?

Miss Lee

Of course I am not, but it is remarkable that £8¼ million has come from local authorities and private sources.

The Theatre (Report)

25. Mr. Channon

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science when he expects the Arts Council's Report on the Theatre to be published.

Miss Jennie Lee

I understand that the Report is now in draft form and may be ready for submission to the Arts Council in December. It is for the Council to decide whether and when it should be published.

Mr. Channon

Does not the right hon. Lady agree that this is a matter of the greatest urgency? There have been long delays which have not been the fault of the Committee, but it is now urgent that we have this report.

Miss Lee

Everyone is awaiting publication. It has been completed. There has been a good deal of work done, but we are now to receive it quite shortly.

[column 604]

Mr. Hugh Jenkins

Is it not desirable that, while the report should certainly come as soon as possible, it should be comprehensive, adequate and fully considered before it is published?

Miss Lee

I agree with that. That is part of the reason for the delay.


26. Mr. Channon

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many museums have had to close recently for one or more days per week; and what were the reasons for these closings.

Miss Jennie Lee

None of the national museums or galleries has had to do this. So far as I am aware, no regional museum has closed for one or more days a week during the current financial year.

Mr. Channon

Would not the right hon. Lady agree that in Birmingham, for example, this has had to be done? Is is not a sad state of affairs that some of the national museums have had to be partly closed for economic reasons on certain days in the week while some have had to be completely closed on one or more days a week as a result of these measures? When we wish to encourage people to go to museums, is not this rather sad?

Miss Lee

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will read my reply in which I have specifically said that none of the national museums and no regional museums in the current financial year have to close in such a way. I understand that the branch museums of the Birmingham City Museum and Art Gallery were closed on Mondays during the last financial year, but that was the responsibility of the Birmingham Council and not of the Government.

Qualified Teacher Status

27. Mr. J. E. B. Hill

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science why the Burnham Committee has refused to accept licentiate membership of the Royal Institute of Chemistry as a qualification for teaching.

Mr. Fowler

Conferment of qualified teacher status is not for the Burnham [column 605]Committee but for my right hon. Friend. I am not satisfied that licentiate membership represents a standard sufficient to confer eligibility for qualified teacher status.

Mr. Hill

In view of the shortage of science teachers, which the hon. Gentleman himself has stressed, is it not desirable that people with these qualifications, which are recognised outside the Burnham Committee as equivalent to a pass degree, should not be deterred from remaining in teaching?

Mr. Fowler

We accept that associate and graduate membership confers eligibility for qualified teacher status. What the Burnham Committee has refused to accept is that graduate membership of the Royal Institute of Chemistry should be regarded as the equivalent of a good honours degree for salary purposes.

National Gailery (Grant)

29. Mr. Faulds

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will take steps to increase the 15 per cent. increase in grant which has been allotted to the National Gallery for 1969–70.

Miss Jennie Lee

The level of the annual purchase grant for the National Gallery for 1970–71 onwards, together with those for all the other national museums and galleries, is at present under consideration.

Mr. Faulds

That answer gives me some pleasure, but will my right hon. Friend say definitely that this minimal grant this year will certainly be increased in future years?

Miss Lee

My hon. Friend will not expect to make a statement on a matter which is still under consideration.

Museums and Art Galleries (Capital Development Grants)

30. Mr. Faulds

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science, whether he will provide capital development grants to provincial museums and art galleries for the improvement of display facilities and the modernisation of premises.

Miss Jennie Lee

Provincial museums and art galleries are primarily a matter [column 606]for the local authorities and other local organisations responsible for them. I am very much concerned to encourage local interests to support their local museums and galleries in every possible way.

Mr. Faulds

Whilst accepting the principle that local authorities are responsible for the arts, would my right hon. Friend not agree that she has already breached that principle as regards housing the arts. Why should she not extend that breach in this respect?

Miss Lee

Museums and galleries have been a traditional responsibility of local authorities and local interests. Many of our theatres were in danger of closing down. The Housing the Arts Fund has made it possible, by a combined operation of central and local funds, to maintain or establish theatres which would otherwise not have been there.