Speeches, etc.

Margaret Thatcher

HC PQ [Education and Science]

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: House of Commons
Source: Hansard HC [793/609-30]
Editorial comments: 1430-1515. MT spoke at cc614, 621, and 624.
Importance ranking: Minor
Word count: 7816
Themes: Education, Public spending & borrowing
[column 609]


Sex Education

1. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what research was conducted into the effects of sex education on children under 10 years of age before his Department gave advice regarding the British Broadcasting Corporation's television programmes.

54. Mr. Christopher Price

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will publish the advice his Department gave to the British Broadcasting Corporation regarding its sex education programmes for children.

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

There were no such consultations.

Mr. Hamilton

While I do not disagree with the principle of engaging in this sort of education, would not my right hon. Friend agree that it is rather strange that the B.B.C. did not see fit either to consult with or to take the advice of the Department before deciding to put on these programmes?

Miss Bacon

It is not usual for the B.B.C. to seek our advice in this sort of matter, although, as my hon. Friend may know, representatives of the Department sit on the Schools Broadcasting Council. I believe that the B.B.C. has been very good about this and has at all stages consulted parents in the pilot areas where the films have been shown.

[column 610]

Mr. Price

Would the right hon. Lady disregard a lot of the ill-informed criticism that has been made both of these broadcasts and of some of the other excellent sex education that is being given to primary school children in our schools and try to work more closely with the B.B.C. in future to co-ordinate the work?

Miss Bacon

Accompanied by other Ministers, my right hon. Friend and I saw these films a short time ago and we felt that they did a very good job indeed. I believe that this view was shared by hon. Members who also saw the films. There is a good working arrangement with the B.B.C., but, strictly speaking, neither were we consulted nor are we ever called on to approve films made by the B.B.C.

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

Does the right hon. Lady realise that some people, including myself, do not approve of the idea of the B.B.C. showing films of this type? Should not the Government take an attitude on this issue and express their feelings, as I did, about whether this is the correct kind of film to be shown on television to children aged under 10?

Miss Bacon

The B.B.C. has undertaken to seek parents' consent in every case before the films are shown, and this occurred in the pilot areas. Thus, no child is forced to see these films, which are available for children whose parents wish them to see them.

Mr. J. Idwal Jones

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is great opposition from many parents to the idea of putting on television something which the individual teacher would be reluctant to teach?

Miss Bacon

I appreciate that there are differences of opinion, but I believe it is right that where schools wish to show these films to children as part of their general education, they should first ask parents to see the films and then obtain their consent.

Adult Residential Colleges

(Student Grants)

3. Mr. Boyden

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what steps he is taking to ensure that local education authorities are using consistent [column 611]criteria for the award of grants to mature students at the adult residential colleges.

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

I hope that all local education authorities will be prepared, in accordance with the advice given in a circular dated April, 1966, to make awards, at uniform rates, to suitable students undertaking courses of a year or more at adult residential colleges. My right hon. Friend, however, has no power to override the exercise of their discretion.

Mr. Boyden

Is my hon. Friend aware that the present situation is chaotic, with one local authority giving awards only to those over 30 while a neighbouring authority is giving awards only to those under 25? Is he further aware that some local authorities are demanding G.C.Es., a policy which is entirely opposite to that declared when the residential colleges were established?

Would my hon. Friend consider sending out a revised circular, and, if that does not work, consider increasing the number of mature State scholarships for adult students to ensure that places are not left empty in the residential colleges which the Government have established?

Mr. Fowler

I agree that there are variations in policy, and this situation is to be deplored. This matter has been drawn to the attention of local authorities. I will certainly consider whether it would be helpful to issue a revised circular.

Workers' Educational Association

4. Mr. Boyden

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will now increase the grant to the districts of the Workers' Educational Association, in view of the increasing burden of the association's costs caused by the growth of its programme of classes.

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

Grants to W.E.A. districts increased from £111,000 in 1959–60 to £252,000 in 1967–68. Figures for 1968–69 and 1969–70, when available, are likely to show further increases.

Mr. Boyden

Most of this increase is for teaching costs, but my point is that of the funds available the proportions [column 612]for administrative and organising costs have decreased severely with the increased teaching burden? Would my hon. Friend look at that aspect?

Miss Lestor

We will certainly look at that aspect, but my right hon. Friend would want to await the outcome of the Russell Committee inquiry before deciding whether any major alteration is required in the scale of support made to responsible bodies.

Mr. Cant

As one who has been associated with the W.E.A. for 35 years, may I ask whether my hon. Friend would not agree that this organisation has made a profound contribution to democratic development? It has been the inspiration of extramural departments and the Open University. Is it not time that this perpetual fight for financial survival ceased?

Miss Lestor

I agree entirely with what my hon. Friend has said. We are all particularly aware of the contribution that has been made to adult education by the W.E.A. I do not want to repeat what I have already said about the Russell Committee's inquiry, except to say that until its results are known any application for grant will be considered sympathetically by the Department.

Intensive Poultry Units

(Waste Products Disposal)

5. Mr. Biffen

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how much money is currently being spent by the Agricultural Research Council on research into chemical additives which will minimise the stench arising from the disposal of waste products from intensive poultry units; and what success has so far been obtained with this research.

Mr. Fowler

The council is at present considering the possible extension of the research it is supporting on various aspects of the disposal of farm wastes, and I have no doubt that the possibilities of mitigating odours by additives will not be overlooked.

Mr. Biffen

Is the Minister of State aware that the problem referred in the Question is of acute, even if localised, consideration in rural communities, particularly in Shropshire? Why is he unable to indicate the amount of money [column 613]currently being spent? Are we to understand from that lack of indication that no money is currently being spent on this important problem? As the budget now runs at upwards of £15 million, does not the Minister think that it would be a sensible reallocation of priorities if the Agricultural Research Council did spend some money on these projects?

Mr. Fowler

The council is supporting research into various aspects of waste disposal at many of its own institutes. I am sure that it is well aware of the importance, not least in Shropshire, of research into the precise problem which the hon. Gentleman describes, but the principal objective must be to dispose of waste in a manner that renders it innocuous rather than concentrating on simply making it inoffensive.

Mr. Rankin

Should not the responsibility of keeping their own factory farms clean and wholesome lie with the farmers themselves?

Mr. Fowler

Responsibility does rest, of course, on the individual farmer; nevertheless it is the duty of the Government and the research councils, as well as of other bodies, to give what help can be given in terms of finding more effective ways of dealing with the problem.

Comprehensive Education

6. Mr. Molloy

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many local authorities have now submitted schemes for the reorganisation of comprehensive education; and how many have declined to do so.

Miss Bacon

A total of 152 local education authorities have submitted schemes, of which 129 have so far been approved. The plans of 11 authorities have been referred back; three of these have declined to submit revised proposals. A further five have declined to submit any scheme.

Mr. Molloy

I thank my right hon. Friend, and I congratulate her Department on the contribution which it has made to eliminating the barbarities of the 11-plus examination. Can my right hon. Friend say what plans are in hand to try to overcome the myopia of those backward authorities which cannot see the light of day and sense?

[column 614]

Miss Bacon

As has already been announced in the Queen's Speech, my right hon. Friend is to introduce this Session a Bill to ensure that all local authorities submit plans for comprehensive reorganisation to get rid of the 11-plus examination.

Mrs. Thatcher

If that Bill comes forward, can Miss Alice Baconthe right hon. Lady say how much E. Shorther right hon. Friend is prepared to make available in money terms to enable the necessary changes in buildings to be made?

Miss Bacon

The present school building programme is exactly twice what it was in 1963–64. In addition to that, £105 million have been allocated over the next two or three years for the raising of the school-leaving age. Those local authorities which already have a scheme of reorganisation approved are spending most of this money to help secondary reorganisation.

14. Mr. Emery

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science in how many existing comprehensive schools, and in how many that are approved or planned for the future, pupils are situated in buildings over a quarter of a mile apart; and in how many of these comprehensive schools at present or in the midst of being approved will there be two, three or four locations, respectively, more than a quarter of a mile apart.

Miss Bacon

This information is not available.

Mr. Emery

Does the Minister agree that there are many comprehensive schools situated in buildings not only a quarter of a mile apart but sometimes two or three miles apart? Is it not important that she should have this information, because when school buildings are so far apart it is quite impossible for the teaching staff to get round them? Sometimes they use taxis. This matter must be corrected.

Miss Bacon

When I consider schemes of secondary reorganisation I also consider very carefully schools where the buildings are separated. I am certain that none has been approved where the distance between the buildings would make it difficult to run the school. The hon. Member's original Question not only refers to those which have been set up [column 615]and approved but includes comprehensive schools set up some years ago under the previous Administration. It would be very difficult, without circularising all the local authorities, to get this precise information.

Mr. Christopher Price

Is my right hon. Friend aware that some of our most famous public schools exist in buildings which are very widely scattered over an area? I used to teach in a school which functioned happily in buildings which were a mile apart. Is it not a fact that those who object are not objecting because of the separation of buildings but are objecting to the principle?

Miss Bacon

I certainly agree with my hon. Friend.

15. Mr. Emery

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science in how many, and in what proportion, of the total of comprehensive schools there are facilities for holding morning assembly for the whole school in one hall, in two halls, and in three or more halls, respectively; and in how many assembly has to be duplicated in the same hall because of inadequate accommodation.

Miss Bacon

I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman is rather unlucky. This information is not available.

Mr. Emery

Does this not underline the inability of the Ministry to come to any judgment, because where the school is unable to be gathered in one place—and I can give the right hon. Lady information if she does not know it—it is impossible to have a comprehensive school and an assembly without duplicating in more than one building? This is where there are one, two or three halls.

Miss Bacon

In the Standards of School Premises Regulations, 1959, a separate assembly hall is not a requirement. The hon. Member is quite wrong in thinking that it is a requirement laid down in the regulations which were approved in 1959, but it is open to the local education authority to make such arrangements for the morning assembly as it wishes.

Mr. Marks

If my right hon. Friend continues her investigations into accommodation, will she inquire how many [column 616]private schools in the country are not purpose-built and how many of them fail to come up to required standards?

Miss Bacon

I agree that of course it is not necessary always to have a new purpose-built building to have a very good school. If the hon. Member for Honiton (Mr. Emery) loked at some of the schools approved at the time when his party was in power, he would find that this was so. I agree with my hon. Friends when they suggest that this is not so much an attack on schools whose buildings are separated as an attack on the whole comprehensive system.

School Meals

7. Mr. J. E. B. Hill

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what has been the actual and percentage increase in the cost of the school meal, excluding capital expenditure, over the last five years; and how this compares with the actual and percentage increase in the index of retail prices over the same period.

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

Over the last five complete financial years the actual increase in the cost of the school meal has been 6.4d., or 25.7 per cent. These figures are not strictly comparable with the index of retail prices—which does not include wages—over the same period, and other factors, such as the improved nutritional value of the meal, have to be taken into account. When weight is given to the wages movement affecting school meals employees over the period, and also to Retail Price Index movements appropriate both to the Index and to school dinners, the increase is of the order of 27 per cent.

Mr. Hill

Will not the Secretary of State agree that he was somewhat in error when he told the House on 17th November that the cost of school meals had increased much less than had retail prices generally?

Mr. Short

I do not think that I was in error at all. The hon. Gentleman will remember that in the summer term of 1966 we considerably increased the nutritional standards of school meals and abandoned the 1955 standards. If that fact, as well as wage increases, is taken [column 617]into account, what I said is strictly correct.

23. Mr. van Straubenzee

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what progress has been made by the working party set up in 1967 to review the arrangements for free school meals to ensure that children could receive them without embarrassment either to themselves or to their parents.

Miss Bacon

Local education authorities carried out a review of their procedures. The results of this review were considered by a working party which included representatives of local education authorities and of the Department. It was evident that great pains were being taken to protect children and their parents from embarrassment, and the working party considered that it was not necessary to add to the guidance already given in the Department's Circular 12/67. My right hon. Friend is, however, reviewing this matter again.

Mr. van Straubenzee

In view of the recent increases, which are since the recommendations of that working party, and as it is clear that there may well be further increases in the price of school meals under the present Government, would it not be appropriate to try to find a method by which the charge is made, not obviously against the child, but quietly against the parent?

Miss Bacon

I am sure that all local authorities are doing this. Since this review the number of children taking free school meals has risen from 404,000 in the autumn of 1967, to 594,000 in the autumn of 1969.

Mr. Alfred Morris

My right hon. Friend will be aware that I had an Adjournment debate on this important subject about 21 months ago. Has she seen the rather disturbing reports from Manchester about the segregation of children receiving free school meals? Will the Department look into this matter urgently?

Miss Bacon

Yes, I have seen these reports. I have taken steps to inquire into the matter. I am told that this was done, without the headmaster's knowledge, by a school meals supervisory assistant, and as soon as it was known what was [column 618]happening the system was changed. The local authority's attention has been drawn to this. I have been on the telephone only this morning to ascertain the details.

26. Mr. Marks

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he is satisfied with the progress made in devising arrangements to ensure that children from low-income families have free school meals; and if he will make a statement.

51. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many children, under the new regulations, now qualify for free school dinners but do not claim them.

Miss Bacon

This term, on a census date, 594,000 children in England and Wales were taking free school meals, compared with 404,000 in the autumn of 1967 and 330,000 in the autumn of 1966. No records are available of children whose parents do not claim free meals.

Mr. Marks

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for those figures, but will she consider sending another circular to parents, as the previous Secretary of State did in 1967, and will she direct it particularly to the parents of infant children? Also, will she consider raising the income level at which entitlement to free school meals begins?

Miss Bacon

I shall consider issuing another circular. The income level was raised on 3rd November this year and the new level is now in operation. A man with four children who has a net income of £16 2s.—there are certain disregards which may amount to £2 or £3 a week—receives free school meals for all four children now.

Mr. Allaun

Following the recent increases, I support my hon. Friend's plea that the Minister should send a letter to all parents through the schools telling them of the availability of free meals and how to obtain them without embarrassment.

Miss Bacon

I shall consider that.

Secondary Education


8. Mrs. Renée Short

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science [column 619]if he will issue advice to local education authorities to ensure that proper consultation with parents is carried out by them when secondary reorganisation is proposed.

Mr. Edward Short

Circular 10/65 asked local education authorities to keep parents fully and authoritatively informed from an early stage, and I attach great importance to their doing so.

Mrs. Short

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in some areas, particularly those areas in which the local authorities are not prepared to carry out comprehensive reorganisation, these consultations with parents are not taking place? Does he not think that he ought to get in touch with those authorities again, and request them—indeed, instruct them—to carry out parent meetings so that those parents who are overwhelmingly in favour of comprehensive education can express their point of view?

Mr. Short

The Question is about consultation where the local authority is carrying out reorganisation. I do not hesitate to take it up with a local authority if I find that the consultation is not adequate. But in the Bill to which my right hon. Friend has just referred there will be a Clause dealing with this point.

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

Is not the most important point that there should be consultation with parents before a scheme takes place? I am told that in many cases this consultation is not taking place. Many people who are opposed to comprehensive education are not getting the opportunity to putting forward their views to the local authority.

Mr. Short

If the hon. Gentleman knows of any authority where adequate consultation is not taking place before plans are finalised, I hope that he will let me know.

Comprehensive Schools


9. Mrs. Renée Short

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what action he intends to take following the representations made by parents in the Wolverhampton Local Education Authority's area about the changes being made in the Smestow and Regis comprehensive schools.

[column 620]

Mr. Edward Short

If my hon. Friend will supply me with details, I will look into the matter.

Mrs. Short

Is not my right hon. Friend aware that many meetings of parents have been held in the area of these two comprehensive schools to protest at the decomprehensivisation, if I may use such a word, of those schools? Does he not think it high time that comprehensive schools which are now established and extremely successful should be protected by his Department?

Mr. Short

Yes, Sir. But, as my hon. Friend knows, this matter is within the discretion of the local authority. However, if she will send particulars, I will certainly look into the matter again.

Teaching Profession

(Career Structure)

10. Mr. Onslow

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will commission an inquiry into the career structure of the teaching profession.

Mr. Edward Short

As I told the hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Pardoe) on 2nd December, I am prepared to consider an examination of the structure of teachers' salary scales.

Mr. Onslow

Does not the Secretary of State agree that unless such action is taken and unless the root causes of the present regrettable situation are removed, teaching may cease to be a profession worthy of the name?

Mr. Short

I certainly hope that agreement can be reached between the local authorities and the teachers' organisations on a radical review of the structure of teachers' salaries.

Mr. Newens

Would not my right hon. Friend agree that more emphasis should be placed in future on making the basic scale sufficiently attractive to good teachers who want to do a good job in the class-room, rather than on making the rewards at the top more attractive in the hope of keeping more teachers in the profession to scramble after these places?

Mr. Short

These differences of opinion illustrate the need for a review of the whole structure. I am quite sure that [column 621]the structure of salary scales has become distorted because there have been too many across-the-board increases.

Mrs. Thatcher

What kind of review has the right hon. Gentleman in mind—an internal departmental review, or a more public review?

Mr. Short

I have nothing in mind at all about this yet. All I am trying to do is to interest both parties—and I do not employ the teachers; the local authorities employ them—to interest local authorities and teachers' organisations in some sort of radical review of the salary scales.

Departmental Stationery

11. Mr. Onslow

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what steps he takes to secure the maximum economy in his Department's use of official stationery.

Mr. Edward Short

My procedures for controlling the issue and use of official stationery ensure that the Department is able to function efficiently but as economically as possible. My officials are alive to the need for sensible economies. All demands are subject to stock control and to a counter-signature procedure, and it is standard practice for all demands to be scrutinised before stock is issued to ensure that no avoidable waste occurs. All forms used in the Department are devised or approved by the Organisation and Methods Unit.

Mr. Onslow

That is all very encouraging, but will the Secretary of State make sure that pieces of paper 8¼ ins. by 6 ins. are not sent out in envelopes 12¾ ins. by 9 ins.?

Mr. Short

The hon. Member asked precisely the same question in May and he was told that the piece of paper was sent in that sized envelope because another document was sent with it and that was a bigger document. I should point out that it has cost about £25 to answer this Question

Scientific Research

12. Mr. J. H. Osborn

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what action he proposes to take following the Science Policy study, which he [column 622]authorised, in attempting to quantify the benefits of scientific research.

Mr. Fowler

Further studies are being commissioned at the University of Manchester to test the method of attempting to quantify benefits which was suggested in the published study.

Mr. Osborn

While I recognise that it is a very valuable document which was published in April, would it not be wise to do more work in this field? What steps is the hon. Gentleman taking to observe recommendations made by some of the studies which have already been carried out?

Mr. Fowler

A great deal of work is going on in this field, not only in my Department or through the Council for Scientific Policy, but also in the Ministry of Technology. It is very important, and I am keen that we should find reliable methods of quantifying the benefits of scientific research. I do not think it would be easy or necessary to check these policies in the very near future.

University Teachers

(Salary Negotiations)

13. Mr. Lane

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what progress is being made in devising better machinery for the negotiation of university teachers' salaries.

Mr. Fowler

A number of suggestions have been examined, and I am today having another meeting with the parties most concerned.

Mr. Lane

Now that the White Paper on Prices and Incomes Policy is about to be published, as it has been delaying this matter hitherto and in view of the great dependence on university teachers for the development of higher education is the 'seventies, can the hon. Gentleman undertake that higher priority will be given by the Department to seeking a solution to this problem than has been given in the last few months?

Mr. Fowler

I think the hon. Member is misinformed. The Department has always given priority to this. I certainly give it very high priority. On the other hand, I also recognise that it is a very difficult problem. It will be difficult [column 623]to find a solution which will be acceptable to all parties, but we shall certainly try.

Married Women Students

16. Mr. Wright

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will amend the University and Other Awards Regulations in respect of married women students under 21 years of age to take account of the lowering of the age of majority to 18 years from January, 1970.

Mr. Fowler

Under these regulations, women who are over 21 and married before the beginning of their course are deemed to be independent of their parents. The corresponding age for men and single women is 25. It would be inequitable to make changes in favour of married women students without revising the entire system of parental contributions.

Mr. Wright

Does the Minister not appreciate the anomaly of this position? A married woman student under 21 with a parent who has considerable wealth is deemed to be dependent on that parent and may get no grant from the State, but, because she is married, she may get no grant from the parent. There is an anomaly here; will the hon. Gentleman not look at it again?

Mr. Fowler

Not now. The present system of student grants is largely based on the Report of the Anderson Committee, which was issued in 1960. If it were possible to abolish parental contributions there would be stronger claims than that of a married woman under 21, such as a married man student over 21 with children.

Mr. R. C. Mitchell

Will my hon. Friend look at the question of married men students under 21 in colleges of education who receive a single man's grant which is subject to parental contribution?

Mr. Fowler

Yes, but my hon. Friend is attacking the whole principle of parental contributions. [Hon. Members: “No.” ] I am afraid he is. There is no easy way out of this. The cost of abolishing parental contributions in the present academic year would be between £35 million and £40 million.

[column 624]

Graduate Teachers (Maintained Secondary Schools)

17. Mr. Wright

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what was the number of graduate teachers in mathematics, physics and chemistry entered maintained secondary schools in each of the last five years.

Miss Bacon

The numbers of graduate teachers in mathematics and science who entered maintained secondary schools in England and Wales in the years 1963–64 to 1967–68 respectively were: 1,626 1,648 1,907 1,947 2,109

Of the 2,109, 566 were graduates in mathematics and 1,543 in science.

Mr. Wright

I congratulate the right hon. Lady on having some statistics available in reply to this Question. Does she not share the concern of the House at this very small increase over this quinquennial period? What is she doing to increase the supply of these teachers at a time when the schools are beginning to bulge and the pressure on sixth forms is increasing?

Miss Bacon

We cannot win with hon. Members opposite. If we have not got figures, they grumble. If we have figures and they look rather good, hon. Members opposite say that they are not good enough. The figures I have given show that the annual intake increased by over 8 per cent. in the last year I quoted. With growing numbers in the schools we need even more of these teachers, and we are trying, by advertisement and other means, to improve recruitment. I do not accept that the increase has not been a good one.

Mr. Rankin

Can my right hon. Friend give us the figures for honours graduates in those subjects?

Miss Bacon

I could not do that without notice.

Mrs. Thatcher

To enable us to judge how good the figures are, can the right hon. Lady also tell us the number of pupils and the number of science graduates leaving in the same year, because what is important is the teacher-pupil ratio?

[column 625]

Miss Bacon

That is another question. If the hon. Lady cares to table a Question seeking that information, I shall be happy to answer it.

Primary School Classes

19. Mr. Rossi

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what plans he has for getting rid of every primary school class of over 40 by 1971.

Mr. Edward Short

The improved supply of teachers and large school building programmes give us the opportunity virtually to solve this problem by the end of the present school year. In a recent circular—16/69—I asked local education authorities to make a special effort during this school year to eliminate oversize primary classes, by adopting the most appropriate measures in each case.

Mr. Rossi

Is the expected growth in the rate support grant sufficient to justify the right hon. Gentleman's optimism? Is it not a question of adequate buildings? Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that there is sufficient in the improvement part of the building programme to bring all the existing primary schools up to the required standard to enable the classes to be reduced to this size?

Mr. Short

As was pointed out earlier, we have doubled the building programme during the five years this Government have been in office. In the negotiations for the present two-year period for the rate support grant we did not reduce by one teacher the number of teachers the local authorities said they wished to employ. As a result, virtually every teacher who came out of college this year has obtained employment.

Mr. Tinn

I welcome my right hon. Friend's original answer, but does he agree that it is time he reconsidered the figure of 40, which is too high a maximum?

Mr. Short

Perhaps it has escaped my hon. Friend's notice that I have abolished the regulation which laid down 40 for primary schools and 30 for secondary schools.

24. Mr. Chrisopher Ward

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what was the number of primary school classes over 30, and the percentage [column 626]of primary school pupils in classes over 30, respectively, at the latest available date.

Miss Bacon

In January, 1969, 99, 943, and 76.6 per cent., respectively.

Mr. Ward

Does the right hon. Lady regard those figures as satisfactory? What plans has she to reduce the size of classes further, and by when?

Miss Bacon

The hon. Gentleman's Question refers to classes of 30. My right hon. Friend has been doing everything possible to get rid of classes of over 40. At the time when the hon. Gentleman asked for the information, 9.5 per cent. of primary classes were of over 40, as compared with 10.8 per cent. a year before, which is a more rapid fall than in any other recent year.

Dame Irene Ward

As additional teachers are required, and these would probably follow a betterment of the salary structure for teachers, would it not be a good idea if the Secretary of State resigned, so that he could then demonstrate that he was as in favour of helping teachers as I am, thus showing that the Treasury and the Chancellor of the Exchequer are the nigger in the woodpile? Why does not the right hon. Gentleman have his own strike?

Miss Bacon

My right hon. Friend will not resign, and none of us would wish his to resign because he is doing such a good job.

Primary and Secondary Schools

(Teachers' Wastage)

20. Mr. Rossi

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is the average length of service in primary and secondary schools of young men and women teachers after completing their initial training.

Miss Bacon

This precise information is not available, but figures of wastage are printed in Volume 4 of Statistics of Education 1967. I am sending the hon. Member extracts from the relevant tables.

Mr. Rossi

Do not the figures reveal a very alarming situation and indicate that there must urgently be a betterment in the salary structure after the first three to five years, particularly for male teachers?

[column 627]

Miss Bacon

It must not be assumed that those who leave employment in schools are lost to the education service, because many of them transfer to special schools, to institutes of further education, and to administration. This must be borne in mind when studying the figures.

Mr. Sheldon

Will my right hon. Friend look again at the question of the long salary scale? Does this mirror the advantages of teaching for those who have this length of service? It is not found in a number of other countries.

Miss Bacon

As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has already said this afternoon, he would like there to be an investigation into this whole matter. I cannot go further than that in answering this question.

Careers Services (Colleges of Further Education)

21. Mr. Silvester

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what guidance and information services about careers are available in colleges of further education.

Mr. Fowler

Although arrangements vary, students at further education establishments normally look to college teaching staff for careers guidance and advice. The Youth Employment Service, in cooperation with the teaching staff, is available to students up to the age of 18. For older students, the Occupational Guidance Service and the employment, information and placement facilities of the Department of Employment and Productivity are available.

Mr. Silvester

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that, according to one estimate, up to 20,000 students leave these colleges without advice on their careers? Should not the Department urgently give some instruction and guidance to these colleges to encourage the development of information services about careers?

Mr. Fowler

This is a matter in which my Department, the D.E.P., and the L.E.A.s are taking a positive and continued interest. In July of this year my Department sent a circular letter to L.E.A.s and colleges drawing attention to the service offered by the occupational guidance units of the D.E.P.

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School Building

22. Mr. Roebuck

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what was the total of school building in 1963–64; and what is the estimated total for 1971–72.

Mr. Edward Short

£89.5 million and £175.5 million, at current prices.

Mr. Roebuck

Can my right hon. Friend as a former headmaster help me with my mental arithmetic? Is not that almost double? Does not this news, coming on top of today's magnificent trading returns, provide convincing evidence that Labour government works? Is my right hon. Friend aware that, in view of that most satisfactory Answer, I shall ask my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to give his Department a half holiday?

Mr. Short

Following a recent precedent in the education world, I should be entitled to take 14 days off.

Mrs. Thatcher

What proportion of the increase has gone to providing roofs over heads for more pupils and what proportion for the replacement of old buildings?

Mr. Short

I cannot answer that offhand. If the hon. Lady cares to table a Question I will give her the information. If the Conservative Government had had a bigger education building programme, we should certainly have been able to do more replacement. She will have noticed that I have recently asked the local authorities for bids for a £15 million replacement programme, which is three times as great as any previous programme.

School Leavers (A Levels)

25. Mr. Christopher Ward

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is his estimate of the numbers of school-leavers with two or more General Certificate of Education A levels in 1970, 1975 and 1980; what is his estimate of the proportion of the age group obtaining these qualifications; and how these estimates compare with those made in the Robbins Report on Higher Education.

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Mr. Edward Short

As the answer contains a number of figures, I will with permission, circulate it in the Official Report.

Mr. Ward

Do not the figures show that many more young people will be qualifying for university education than was previously supposed? Does the Secretary of State plan to increase the number of places at universities and other institutions of higher education accordingly?

Mr. Short

The hon. Gentleman is right in his reference to an increase. This is one of the results of reorganising our secondary schools. For example, for 1980 the Robbins estimate was 12.1 per cent. of the age group attaining two or more A levels, and it now looks as though the proportion will be 20.2 per cent. This is a direct result of reorganising our schools. The Labour Government in the middle of the 1970s will provide places for all of them.

Mr. R. C. Mitchell

Does my right hon. Friend expect the G.C.E. A level to be in existence in 1975, in the light of recent reports?

Mr. Short

The report to which my hon. Friend refers, which was published yesterday, is a report not to me but to the Schools Council. We shall all have to study it during the next few months.

Mr. van Straubenzee

Before the Secretary of State waxes too glibe in taking the credit, would it not be as well to recall that this is the result of the work of the teaching profession? When does he expect to receive replies to his circular to the universities designed to deal with the situation raised in my hon. Friend's Question?

Mr. Short

The party opposite has had a lot of bad news, what with the trade figures and the announcements which I have made. Of course, it is the result of the work of the teachers in the reorganised secondary schools. On the second point, perhaps the hon. Gentleman will give the facts correctly. He knows that the circular was not a Government circular; it was drawn up and sent out by the vice-chancellors themselves, not by me.

Following is the information: [column 630]

Arts (Expenditure)

27. Mr. Arnold Shaw

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what was the amount being spent on the arts in 1963–64; and what is the figure for 1969–70.

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

Government spending on the arts has risen from £9.43 million in 1963–64 to £21.3 million in 1969–70. These figures include £3.79 million capital expenditure on the national museums and galleries, which is borne on the Vote of the Ministry of Public Building and Works.

Mr. Shaw

Does my right hon. Friend agree that this is a question of precept and practice, and that, whereas the Opposition always talked about these things, the Labour Government have practised them.

Miss Lee

We must take it for granted that a Labour Government will be concerned with the quality of life to an exceptional extent.