Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

Complete list of 8,000+ Thatcher statements & texts of many of them

1970 Mar 5 Th
Margaret Thatcher

HC PQ [Education and Science]

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: House of Commons
Source: Hansard HC [797/591-612]
Editorial comments: 1430-1515. MT spoke at cc596, 597-98, 607.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 7867
Themes: Education, Primary education, Pay
[column 591]


Unqualified Teachers (Employment)

1. Mr. Marten

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will seek to amend the regulations whereby the employment of unqualified teachers shall cease after 31st August, 1970.

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


Mr. Marten

In view of the great teaching experience of many of these so-called unqualified teachers and the utter waste of national resources in sacking them at the end of the summer term, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman to reconsider his powers in this matter so that he should have a discretion, particularly where a local education auth[column 592]ority is prepared to keep on these valuable teachers?

Mr. Short

A great many will be given qualified teacher status. Others will have the opportunity to take a course for mature students. But the time has come to move to a fully-qualified teaching profession.

Mr. Christopher Price

Is my right hon. Friend aware that if many of these teachers, whose particular virtue is being good at specialism—for example, music—have to move to the new instructor grade they will lose a lot of money? As some of them have good teaching abilities in these specialisms, may I ask my right hon. Friend to look at the instructor grade the next time he is considering Burnham?

Mr. Short

I will consider that. But payment for the instructor grade is a matter for Burnham, not for me.

Mr. Marten

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of that reply, I beg leave to give notice that I will certainly try to raise the matter on the Adjournment.

School Buildings (Cost)

2. Mr. Boyden

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what has been the trend in recent years in the cost of school buildings erected by local authority consortia as compared with the costs of school buildings erected by individual local education authorities on the basis of open competitive tenders; and if he will publish representative statistics in the Official Report.

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

Statistical comparisons of these trends have not been made. Accurate comparisons, for various reasons, would require lengthy research. But the fact that over 70 per cent. of authorities have chosen to take advantage of the facilities of the consortia shows that they provide good value for money in terms of space, quality and speed of building.

Mr. Boyden

Is my hon. Friend aware that her answer indicates that information about the building activities of the consortia is difficult to come by and very scattered? Will she look into this matter and consider whether her Department [column 593]could publish a booklet or pamphlet setting out the virtues of building by consortia and make an attempt to indicate the cost effectiveness?

Miss Lestor

I will look into that. I should think that the fact that 70 per cent. of authorities are already using this method indicates that they know a great deal about it. However, I will look into the possibility of making sure that authorities have more information.

Teachers (Pay)

3. Mr. Sheldon

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what examination he has made of the desirability of having higher initial salaries for teachers with smaller subsequent increments.

Mr. Edward Short

The structure of teachers' salaries is a matter for the Burnham Committee and the Committee has now in fact decided to undertake a review of the structure.

Mr. Sheldon

While welcoming that information, may I ask my right hon. Friend whether he agrees that it is just a historical accident that we have had this very long scale? Should we not rather more closely relate the value of experience to salaries?

Mr. Short

I agree. I think that the scales have become distorted. That is why I was so anxious that the Burnham Committee should start a full scale and radical review of the structure of the scales.

Sir G. Nabarro

Having regard to the massive demonstrations at Westminster and throughout the constituencies of the United Kingdom on teachers' pay structure and associated matters, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he can advise the House about the likely duration of the examination by the Burnham Committee and whether we can expect at least an interim report within a few months?

Mr. Short

There are some Questions on the Order Paper on this matter which I propose to answer shortly by way of a statement. The present review will end and the new scales will be implemented on, I hope, 1st January next year.

[column 594]

7. Mr. Barnes

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a further statement about the teachers' pay dispute.

25. Mr. Wellbeloved

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what was the total expenditure on teachers' salaries in 1963–64; and what is his estimate of the current cost on the basis of the acceptance of the Burnham offer.

48. Mr. R. C. Mitchell

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will make a further statement on the teachers' pay dispute.

50. Mr. Newens

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a further statement on the teachers' pay dispute.

63 and 64. Sir J. Rodgers

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science (1) if he will now consider the request by the National Association of Schoolmasters to set up a body to examine the need for the restructuring of teachers' salary scales independent of the existing Burnham Committee;

(2) if he will take steps to speed up an interim agreement in the basic pay of schoolteachers.

67. Mr. John Wells

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will now establish a wide-ranging inquiry into the salary structure, status and supply of the teaching profession.

Mr. Edward Short

I am glad to be able to say that the Burnham Committee reached provisional agreement on Tuesday on an interim increase for school teachers in England and Wales at a flat annual rate of £120 from 1st April, 1970. The two sides will begin talks as soon as possible on a review of the salaries structure based on 1969 salary levels, to be partially implemented from 1st January, 1971, the phasing of full implementation thereafter to be the subject of negotiation.

The Government are not committed to a cost for the two proposals in the financial year 1970–71 in excess of £42 million for full-time qualified teachers whose total salary bill in that year would [column 595]rise to an estimated £563 million, and in 1971–72 in excess of £84 million.

The teachers' associations have given an assurance to take steps to terminate as quickly as possible all forms of industrial action and sanctions.

Mr. Barnes

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, contrary to the carping criticism made in some sections of the Press, there is widespread relief throughout the country at the very satisfactory and wise intervention which he made? Would he agree that, in the long-term, it is not enough for teachers' salaries just to keep pace with the cost of living or with other wage earners but that the position of teachers should improve in relation to the rest of us to ensure that they get a much fairer salary for the work they do?

Mr. Short

I am grateful for my hon. Friend's kind words. This, together with the steps that we are taking in regard to qualified teachers, the raising of qualifications and so on, is part of a pattern to try to raise the status of the teaching profession.

Mr. Wellbeloved

Would my right hon. Friend accept the warm-hearted congratulation of not only hon. Members but the general public, whose children have been suffering as a result of teachers' strikes? Is he aware that the activities of his Department have laid the foundation for a great step forward to be made by the profession and that the increased salaries which have been awarded on this and previous occasions under his administration have been a clear indication of the tremendous importance the Government under Labour give to education and teachers' salaries?

Mr. Mitchell

While endorsing everything that has been said about the part that has been played by my right hon. Friend, may I ask him to say whether he has any plans to look at the whole Burnham machinery and, in particular, whether he thinks that his two representatives on the Committee are necessary?

Mr. Short

I told both sides of the Burnham Committee that if they both wished it I would be quite willing to enter into discussions about the whole Burnham machinery. I would not wish [column 596]to comment on the last point made in my hon. Friend's supplementary question.

Mr. Montgomery

Would the right hon. Gentleman please say whether he instructed his representatives on the Burnham Committee that he would be prepared to accept a rise of £120 and, if not, why not? Would he also say why, if he found it possible to intervene last Tuesday, he could not have intervened in this dispute at an earlier stage and thus avoid a great deal of disruption to the education service?

Mr. Short

On Tuesday I accepted an invitation, in the middle of negotiations, from the Teachers' Panel to meet them. The first comment I made to them was that I could not negotiate, but that I would convey what they said to the other side. That is precisely what I did.

Mr. Rankin

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many hon. Members who represent Scottish constituencies hope that a similar happy result will occur in Scotland?

Mrs. Thatcher

May I question the right hon. Gentleman about the amount of money that will be available for restructuring, since it is difficult to judge the position from the figures that have been given in the Press? Is it true that in 1970–71 only £3 million out of the £42 million will be available for restructuring and that, as the interim settlement goes beyond that date, in the following year, 1971–72, of the total amount up to £42 million which is available, an unknown proportion will be available for restructuring? Is that the position?

Mr. Short

It is precisely because the flat-rate increase of 1st April is rather high that there will clearly be only £3 million of the £42 million left in the first year. For this reason I said that the negotiations would also involve deciding on staging the restructuring programme into 1971–72.

Mentally Handicapped Children


4. Mr. Astor

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what proposals have been submitted to him to give a special status to those teachers of mentally-handicapped children who will not immediately be recognised as [column 597]fully qualified teachers after the transfer of ministerial responsibility.

Mr. Edward Short

A working party which I set up in October made recommendations on this matter. These are now under study by the associations of local authorities and teachers concerned.

Mr. Astor

When the right hon. Gentleman considers this recommendation, will he bear in mind that these trained teachers of mentally handicapped children should not be adversely affected if they apply for advanced courses or senior posts?

Mr. Short

I gladly give that assurance, and I hope that all concerned will take note of it. They should not be adversely affected in any way.

Mr. Crawshaw

Does my right hon. Friend agree with the need to encourage more people to go in for this type of teaching? Will he explore every possibility of inducing people to take up this valuable work?

Mr. Short

Yes, Sir, and this is one reason why, in the next few days, I shall be introducing a Bill to transfer the educational care of these children to the education service. Teachers in this sphere will then become qualified teachers in the clear sense of the term, and their pay and prospects will be greatly enhanced by the changeover.

Sir D. Renton

When giving further thought to this issue, will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that it is asking a bit much of somebody who may already have had five years' pre-diploma experience to be required to have a further five years' post-diploma experience before being accepted as qualified?

Mr. Short

I consulted all the bodies concerned, the local authorities and all the teachers' associations, and this was the consensus. Indeed, one body suggested 10 years.

Mrs. Thatcher

Would the right hon. Gentleman accept that while there is a good deal of satisfaction among teachers of mentally handicapped children about this, many hon. Members are anxious to put their views on this issue to the right hon. Gentleman and look forward [column 598]to doing so on the Floor of the House when we debate the Bill to which he referred on Second Reading?

Mr. Short

I am certainly aware of that and of the view which the hon. Lady expresses. As I said in answer to the first Question, the time has come to raise the whole status and standards of the teaching profession.

20. Mr. Rossi

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what recent consultations he has had with teachers of mentally-handicapped children about problems raised by the forthcoming transfer of ministerial responsibility.

Mr. Edward Short

My officials recently discussed the training of staff and other matters with representatives of the Training Council for Teachers of the Mentally Handicapped and of the Association of Tutors of Training Council Courses. I have had a number of informal discussions with both teachers of the mentally handicapped and with students in training. I am inviting the Chairman of the Training Council to meet me for an early discussion. I expect to initiate wider consultations on staffing matters at a suitable stage in the preparations for the transfer.

Mr. Rossi

Is the House to understand from that reply that the Minister has not yet reached agreement with those teachers about the question of qualified teachers' status and conditions? If that be the case, can he advise the House what is the stumbling block in the way of his reaching agreement?

Mr. Short

I have reached agreement with all the teachers' associations concerned with qualified teachers and with the local authorities who are taking over this service.

Mr. Molloy

Will my right hon. Friend be prepared to consider seeking the views of the voluntary organisations, which are so active and have such remarkable knowledge of the problem?

Mr. Short

I have met a good many of the voluntary organisation people.

National Films Archive

5. Mr. Silvester

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will take steps to secure an adequate [column 599]deposit of films in the National Films Archive.

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

The Government are providing next year an extra £22,750 for the duplication of nitrate film and £29,000 for four new storage vaults. The Television Fund is giving a grant of £30,000 to the Archive over three years for the purchase of selected Independent Television programmes. This is all progress in the right direction and I hope that the film industry will continue, and increase, its support for the work of the Archive by voluntarily depositing copies of films.

Mr. Silvester

Does the right hon. Lady recognise that the provision of archives should perhaps represent the first call on the State's support of the arts? Does she consider that these grants are sufficient to keep pace with demands for future films, even if they do not cover the backlog of old films?

Miss Lee

The hon. Gentleman has stated a personal view and this is, of course, a matter of priorities. We are moving in the right direction. The Government have provided more help in this respect than ever before. I believe that relations between the commercial film industry and the State-subsidised part of it are improving and that all of this will have an effect on the Archive.

Youth and Community Work

6. Mr. Judd

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will publish a White Paper outlining the Government's policy for action on youth and community work in the 1970s.

Miss Lestor

My right hon. Friend will certainly consider this possibility. He is carefully reviewing the comments he has received on the recent report of the Youth Service Development Council, and I shall shortly be discussing them with its members.

Mr. Judd

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. Would she agree that there is a great deal of interesting material in the report and that there is widespread disappointment that there has been no clear indication what the Government intend to do about it? Would she also agree that there is urgent need [column 600]for a clear statement of Government policy on this vital aspect of formal and informal education?

Miss Lestor

I agree that there is a lot of useful and important material in this report. We are considering all the recommendations and the comments that have been made on them. This is bound to be a lengthy job because it is a very complicated report. Some bodies concerned with this youth work have indicated that they would welcome an authoritative statement from the Government quickly. On the other hand, others have indicated that they would rather we hastened more slowly.

School Equipment (Purchase)

8. Mr. Boyden

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what estimate he has made of the scale of the economies effected by local education authorities in buying school equipment through consortia.

Miss Lestor

In some instances as much as 10 per cent. has been saved by particular bulk buying operations. Economic benefits also accrue where development work carried out by the consortia leads to better value for money, but it is not possible to give an overall figure for the scale of savings.

Mr. Boyden

I welcome that answer. How many local education authorities buy their laboratory equipment in this way?

Miss Lestor

I am afraid I could not give that information without notice, but I should be glad to give it if my hon. Friend put down another Question.

School Premises (Use)

9 and 10. Mr. Milne

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science (1) if he will issue further advice to local education authorities in regard to the letting of school premises to outside organisations with a view to facilitating the use of school buildings during out-of-school hours;

(2) if he will issue a circular advising local education authorities in the building of new schools to include facilities for community association activities and other associated matters.

[column 601]

Miss Lestor

The letting of school premises to outside organisations is within the discretion of local education authorities and the governors and managers of individual schools who are in the best position to judge the needs of local communities. The Department sent a circular last month to local education authorities urging the use of schools for community activities. I am sending a copy to my hon. Friend.

Mr. Milne

Is my hon. Friend aware that I already have a copy of the circular? Is she aware that in linking these two Questions she was linking two problems which are not directly related? On the question of the use of schools it is imperative that the furnishings of schools should be suitable for adult audiences. Many primary schools are not suitable for those purposes. Will my hon. Friend look at the question of school furnishings in this regard because I am certain that at very little expense primary schools could be made suitable for adult gatherings and audiences? My hon. Friend will agree that the circular is very complicated. [Hon. Members: “Too long.” ] Hon. Members opposite say that my question is too long, but it is a supplementary question on two Questions.

Mr. Speaker

Supplementary questions should still be brief.

Miss Lestor

On the first point about the dual use of school furniture, of course it is desirable that the furniture should be used also for education of adults, but the priority should be to make it suitable for children. There is a point here and if it is possible it should have a dual use, but this must be the first consideration. I should not have thought that the circular was unduly long considering the nature of the material with which it deals.

Mr. Kenneth Lewis

Does the hon. Lady agree that it will not be the first time that my constituents have sat at children's desks for a General Election meeting? Will she also take into account that the most important parts of school premises which advantageously can be made available to the public are playing fields and that some of those playing fields are completely wasted during holidays? Will she press this on local authorities?

[column 602]

Miss Lestor

I certainly agree that playing fields should be used as much as possible for schools and for activities outside schools. That is very important, but also the use of school buildings must be encouraged for dual—if not more—use.


11. Mr. Dalyell

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what plans he now has for further British participation in C.E.R.N., in the light of recent representations made by the German Government.

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

I do not know to which representations my hon. Friend is referring.

Mr. Dalyell

In the light of the reported representations by the German Government, is there nothing new in the British attitude?

Mr. Fowler

I am still in the difficulty that I do not know to which representations my hon. Friend referred. If he refers to the German suggestion about the site of the 300 GeV machine, I do not think that affects the assurance I gave him last November of the Government's continued support for C.E.R.N.

Sir Harmar Nicholls

Why did the Minister of State not take steps to find out what his hon. Friend wanted to know? Is it not treating the House discourteously when a Question has been on the Order Paper for a number of days not to find to what it refers so that a good Answer can be given?

Mr. Fowler

I think the hon. Member's point is as exiguous as his majority. My hon. Friend had a perfectly good opportunity in his supplementary question to make clear to what he was referring and I dealt with what I thought he was referring to, but it still was not crystal clear.

Mr. Maudling

Has not the hon. Gentleman been rather rude to my hon. Friend the Member for Peterborough (Sir Harmar Nicholls) in answering a serious question?

Mr. Fowler

I see no reason why I should not be rude to the hon. Member if he is rude to me. My hon. Friend had a good opportunity to make clear [column 603]to what he was referring and I went out of my way to reply to what I assumed it was.

The Arts

13. Mr. Wright

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what progress has been made by the Arts Council and other relevant bodies in the proposed collaboration to produce a more complete picture of overall support for the arts than at present exists.

Miss Jennie Lee

The Institute of Municipal Entertainment expects to publish this summer a survey of municipal support for entertainment in the financial year 1968–69. This should provide extremely valuable information about local authorities' support for the arts. The Arts Council is also working with the regional arts associations in building up a picture of support for the arts in the regions.

Mr. Wright

Does not the right hon. Lady appreciate that the first part of her reply did not bear on my Question? Is it not a fact that the Arts Council recommended this study? Why is there so much delay?

Miss Lee

This study is in fact being made. The Arts Council is giving close thought to the best machinery for obtaining and keeping up to date comprehensive information. We have already had a valuable survey published by “Arts in the South” . The Arts Council also had its survey on support for ballet, opera and drama and a survey of concert audiences. So a great deal is being done, although much more needs to be done.

Mrs. Renée Short

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is far too little support for the arts by local authorities, trade unions and industry generally? Is she aware of the serious situation facing the Welsh National Theatre? In Wales there are proposals to build a new theatre and the existing theatre company is held back in the development of an audience for that theatre simply because it has not received enough support from local authorities.

Miss Lee

I would be very happy if the support coming from the central Government for the arts was matched by that from local authorities and private patrons, [column 604]but I remind my hon. Friend that we are living in a permissive society.

Mr. Channon

Does not the right hon. Lady realise that the recommendation by the sub-committee presided over by her hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Renée Short) for this study to be set up was made a long time ago? It was accepted by the Arts Council. Could we not know the whole picture of private and public patronage and have the report which has been promised?

Miss Lee

I am sure that everything said on this Question will be taken note of by my Department and by the Arts Council. This is a very wide field and a great deal of work is done in it.

Scottish Opera

14. Miss Harvie Anderson

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will take steps to enable the Scottish Opera to have a special grant in the same way as arranged for the Royal Opera.

Miss Jennie Lee

The Arts Council, in assessing its grant to the Scottish Arts Council, takes into account the needs of Scottish Opera and other Scottish national enterprises. The Scottish Arts Council's grant has risen since 1963–64 by over 400 per cent. The grant to Scottish Opera has risen from £4,500 in 1963–64 to £125,000 in the current year. The increase in the Scottish Arts Council's grants would of course not have been so spectacular had full account not been taken of the needs of Scottish Opera.

Miss Anderson

Does not the right hon. Lady agree that Scottish Opera has lost a substantial sum which it previously obtained from television? Does not its tremendous success and very high standard make it possible for it to compete in the international market? Could it not be treated as a national Scottish institution such as the Scottish National Gallery?

Miss Lee

I share the hon. Lady's admiration for the Scottish Opera Company, but the Government are priming the pump and setting a good example. The increase in grant from £4,500 to £125,000 is quite something. Unfortunately, Scottish industry—I am thinking [column 605]of trade unions and the whole range—and private patrons are not responding as they should.

Mr. Maclennan

Can my right hon. Friend say when Scottish Opera will have a home in Scotland worthy of it? Is this project held back by the philistinism of the Conservative Corporation of Edinburgh?

Miss Lee

The home of Scottish Opera must be decided by the Scottish Arts Council. We gave Scotland and Wales independence in this matter and, instead of giving them committees, we gave them councils, I think the House will agree that both Scotland and Wales have had their grants substantially increased, but we must leave it to Scotland and Wales to decide their priorities when allocating money.

Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

15. Mr. Worsley

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science, in view of the recommendations in the White Paper, “Public Expenditure 1968–69 to 1973–74” , what steps he is taking to enable the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, to plan its programmes for some years ahead.

Miss Jennie Lee

The Department is now working out a system which will give the Arts Council forward figures for planning purposes on a rolling triennial basis. Such a system would enable the Council to give forward notification to its major clients, including the Royal Opera House.

Mr. Worsley

Does the Minister agree that this sort of forward planning is essential for opera? Can she give any indication when the arrangements in this regard will be finalised?

Miss Lee

I entirely agree with the hon. Gentleman. We are very much concerned to make progress in the matter. The essential facts are already known, but it is better that we have the whole thing put on a proper technical basis. There is a number of rather difficult questions. The two most important problems are the incidence in any one year of capital expenditure and provision for pay and price increases. But I think that the essential victory has been won.

Mr. Snow

Is my right hon. Friend prepared to tell the Arts Council that it [column 606]might with advantage scrutinise the free lists in operation at Covent Garden whereby many people in society life appear to be able to get into first houses and subsequent performances, whereas my constituents in the provinces cannot? Is she aware that a few years ago during the Conservative Administration I asked the same question and a member of the box office staff at Covent Garden wrote to me saying that I was justified in my complaints, but that it was as much as his job was worth to let me have the information?

Miss Lee

My hon. Friend has a public duty to let us know whom he is talking about. Gossip takes us nowhere. A great many distinguished people give unpaid public service, and if in return they perhaps have the opportunity to buy a seat on special occasions, I do not think that that is excessive reward. At the same time, there are usually seats available. There is a great deal of misunderstanding about this.

Selective Employment Tax

(The Performing Arts)

16. Mr. Channon

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science when the information on which to base an overall estimate of the increasing cost attributable to selective employment tax of the performing arts will be available.

Miss Jennie Lee

Further study since I last replied to the hon. Member on 19th January has shown that available information does not permit of an accurate assessment of the effect of selective employment tax in this complex and heterogeneous field.—[Vol. 794, c. 43–4.]

Mr. Channon

Does the Minister agree that apart from the more complicated aspects the commercial theatre in particular has suffered a very serious blow as a result of selective employment tax? Will she do her utmost to persuade the Chancellor of the Exchequer at least to relax the tax on the commercial theatre?

Miss Lee

Most of the theatres for which we are primarily concerned, together with the Arts Council and so on, are charities. Therefore, they are not affected in this way. Of course, we want the commercial theatre to be as successful as possible. I am sure that [column 607]what the hon. Gentleman has said will be noted. This is a very complex and difficult field.

New Primary Schools

18. Mr. R. C. Mitchell

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many new primary schools were opened in 1969; and how many in 1963.

Mr. Edward Short

Six hundred and sixty-four and 308 respectively.

Mr. Mitchell

Those are staggering figures. Why does my right hon. Friend think that the record of the present Labour Government is so greatly superior to that of the previous Conservative Administration?

Mr. Short

It is because we are now under a competent Government.

Mrs. Thatcher

Will the right hon. Gentleman urge his hon. Friend also to take into account the numbers of pupils in the primary schools and point out that, according to the right hon. Gentleman's table on page 82 of his latest publication on schools, we completed in that year 308 more primary schools although the number of pupils in the previous six years had fallen by 322,000, whereas his 664 extra schools followed an increase of 750,000 in the number of pupils over the previous six years? Therefore, our element of improvement was very much greater than his.

Mr. Short

I am very grateful to the hon. Lady. The party opposite had it very much easier than we have it. We have an additional 250,000 children to cater for each year, and we are still building 150 per cent. more schools than her Government did in those miserable, decadent 13 years when they were in office. The hon. Lady raised the question of places. I will give her the figures for places.

Mrs. Thatcher

I did not ask for them.

Mr. Short

I will raise the question then. In 1963 there were provided 60,485 places; in 1969 the figure was 145,590.

National Theatre Museum

19. Sir Clive Bossom

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what plans he is now making to en[column 608]courage the formation of a National Theatre Museum.

Miss Jennie Lee

About 1,500 sq. ft. of space is being provided within the new National Theatre building to house the Mander-Mitchenson Collection. In the meantime, the history of the British theatre is well represented in the collections of many libraries and museums, including the British Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum and the London Museum. I know that the hon. Gentleman would like these to be pooled, but the question of priorities comes into this. It is not exactly a neglected field.

Sir Clive Bossom

Will the right hon. Lady be willing to help the British Theatre Museum, now housed at Leighton House, Kensington? It may well have to move next year. Would she be willing to try to find it alternative accommodation?

Miss Lee

I am always willing to help to the limit of my powers.

Educational Building Programme

23. Mr. Golding

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is the total educational building programme in the current year; and what was the total for 1963–64.

Mr. Edward Short

The sums of £207 million and £139 million respectively in England and Wales including the universities.

Mr. Golding

I am grateful for that answer. Can my right hon. Friend assure us that this will make it possible very quickly to get on with the job and get rid of some very old schools such as we have in my constituency at Wolstanton and Silverdale?

Mr. Short

Yes, indeed. As I said in reply to a previous Question, we have had the enormous problem of an additional 250,000 children to cater for each year as well as great movements of population from the north to the south. We are now in a position to devote an increasing part of the building programme to replacement of old schools.

Comprehensive Schools

24. Mr. Arthur Davidson

asked the Secretary of State for Education and [column 609]Science how many authorities were operating comprehensive schools in 1965; and what is the latest figure.

Mr. Edward Short

At January, 1965, 48 authorities were operating a total of 262 comprehensive schools; the corresponding figures for January, 1969, were 96 authorities and 962 schools. Precise figures for January, 1970, are not yet available but I estimate that there are now over 100 authorities operating about 1,200 comprehensive schools.

Mr. Davidson

Is my right hon. Friend aware that those figures are very encouraging for those of us who believe in the system of comprehensive education? Do not they make even more indefensible the action of those Conservative-controlled education authorities which are blindly sticking to the system of selection at 11-plus?

Mr. Short

I agree. Only a handful of authorities and the Front Bench opposite want to retain the 11-plus. We certainly do not intend to allow that small handful of authorities to continue to do this, and I am quite sure that the electorate will not allow the party opposite to do it either.

Sir G. Nabarro

Is it not a fact that in Worcestershire there are a number of ancient foundation, namely, famous grammar schools, which are quite unsuited to conversion to comprehensive establishments? Should not they be allowed to contract out of universal comprehensiveness?

Mr. Short

There is a number of ancient foundations in this House as well. As the Minister responsible for the Natural History Museum, I am willing to find places for some of the pterodactyls out of the party opposite. The answer to the hon. Gentleman is “No” .

Sir G. Nabarro

It is better than being a brontosaurus.

Arts Council Officials (Pensions)

26. Mr. Wright

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what progress has been made with the discussions about pensions of officials of the Arts Council.

[column 610]

Miss Jennie Lee

Negotiations on the transferability of rights between the Arts Council scheme and other public service schemes have made considerable progress, and their satisfactory conclusion is confidently expected soon. The possibility of a change in the Council's scheme from a contributory to a non-contributory basis, which has also been requested by the Council, is being examined, but there is a good deal of work still to be done before a decision can be reached.

Mr. Wright

Since this point was brought to the attention of the country in the Arts Council's report of 1968 by the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, why are we still awaiting a solution? Just how soon is “soon” ?

Miss Lee

I said that the essential decisions have been made. There are some points to be tidied up, but everyone is happy now that it is going in the way that we would all want.

Works of Art (Export)

27. Mr. Worsley

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he accepts the recommendation of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art that a special fund should be set up to finance the retention of works of art in this country.

Miss Jennie Lee

The Government take the view that this problem is still best dealt with through annual purchase grants to the national institutions supported, if necessary, by special purchase grants in exceptional cases. Subject to Parliamentary approval of the Estimates, the total annual purchase grants for the national institutions during the quinquennium 1970–71 to 1974–75 will be £2 million. This is double the total for the current financial year. It is also proposed for 1970–71 to raise the level of the grant fund administered by the Victoria and Albert Museum for purchases by local institutions in England and Wales to £150,000—an increase of £50,000 over the current year.

Mr. Worsley

But would not the right hon. Lady agree that, in practice, this is a very complex and cumbrous way of dealing with the problem and that it causes difficulties? Will she look at this again?

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Miss Lee

I have looked at this very carefully, and I do not think that one can set aside vast sums which are exempt from any consideration at all. We have done remarkably well. We have doubled the grants and we have increased the funds of the Victoria and Albert Museum. The Treasury listens with great sympathy when we put in for a Supplementary Estimate, as does the House when it comes before the House. I am convinced that this is the practical way of dealing with the matter.

School Leaving Age

31. Mr. Kenneth Lewis

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what extra allocation of resources he proposes to make in order to provide for the increase in the school leaving age in due course.

Mr. Edward Short

I have already allocated a special building programme of £137 million over the four years 1969–73 for the raising of the school leaving age and to meet the increase in voluntary staying on at school before the age is raised. The extra current expenditure by local authorities from 1973–74 onwards will of course come into the reckoning of public expenditure and rate support grant in due course.

Mr. Lewis

Yes, but does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that “allocating” is not the same as “providing” ? How can he provide the money for comprehensive education, which is viable only in purpose-built schools, and at the same time this extra money for raising the school leaving age? How can he get the Treasury to agree that this double amount of money is made available?

Mr. Short

I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman has not listened to my answer, but let me explain it clearly to him. Over and above the ordinary building programme, I have allocated an additional £137 million for the four-year period for capital expenditure on raising the school leaving age.

Mr. Edwin Wainwright

Would my right hon. Friend say something about providing the teachers when we raise the school leaving age?

Mr. Short

Yes. In the present school year—last September—we provided an [column 612]additional 13,000 teachers; in September of this year there will be an additional 17,000, and each year from now on there will be a similar number of additional teachers in the schools. So, by the time that the school leaving age is raised, the schools will be able to take the strain without any difficulty.

New Schools (Car Parks)

32. Mr. Fry

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science, in view of the Government's recent policy for greater utilisation of school buildings, what is now his Department's policy regarding applications for larger car parks to be provided with new schools.

Mr. Edward Short

I cannot increase the allowances for car parking included in capital allocations for school buildings. Where the public use school facilities outside school hours, at weekends or during holidays, the school car parks may be used. Where additional facilities for the public are provided by a local authority or voluntary body on a school site, any extra car parking requirements are usually financed from the same source.

Mr. Fry

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that, in many new schools, the existing car parks are totally inadequate for the staff and ordinary visitors? If the use of schools for extra curricular activities is to be encouraged, it is important, for safety reasons alone, that car parking should be provided.

Mr. Short

I agree that there is a need for car parks in new schools. The hon. Gentleman may not be aware of the scale, so perhaps I can give him two examples at random. For a primary school with 320 children, five spaces can be provided, and for a secondary school with 1,200, 23 spaces can be provided.