Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1970 Nov 19 Th
Margaret Thatcher

HC PQ [Education and Science]

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Document kind: House of Commons PQs
Venue: House of Commons
Source: Hansard HC [806/1399-1422]
Journalist: -
Editorial comments: 1430-1515.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 8539
Themes: Education, Private education, Primary education, Higher & further education, Employment, Public spending & borrowing, Health policy, Social security & welfare, Voluntary sector & charity
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EDUCATION AND SCIENCE

School Building Programme

1. Mr. Barnett

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will make a statement on her proposals for primary school building in Lancashire.

The Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. William van Straubenzee)

It is for the Lancashire Education Authority to make proposals for primary school building in Lancashire.

Mr. Barnett

But it is for the Government to find resources. Would the hon. Gentleman not agree that we in Lancashire for far too long have put up with Victorian slums, particularly in primary schools? Could he at least promise that we in Lancashire will get a higher priority than we have had in the past in allocation of Government funds for primary schools?

Mr. van Straubenzee

What the hon. Gentleman has said emphasises my right hon. Friend's wisdom in giving priority to primary schools.

Sir R. Cary

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the condition of some primary [column 1400]schools in the Manchester area is deplorable since some of them are 100 years old, and does he agree that something must be done in the immediate future to correct this?

Mr. van Straubenzee

I shall naturally pay close attention to what my hon. Friend has just said.

10. Mr. William Price

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what was the total amount of public money spent on primary school building in 1963–64; and what is the estimated figure for 1970–71 at current prices.

The Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mrs. Margaret Thatcher

Capital expenditure on primary school building in England and Wales in 1963–64 was £32 million at current prices; no reliable estimate for 1970–71 is available.

Mr. William Price

Is it not a fact that the figure will be well over double, and, on the ground that a good question is worth repeating, will the right hon. Lady now try to answer the point made in my original Question? Can she guarantee a similar sort of percentage increase over the next few years?

Mrs. Thatcher

I think the figure probably will double. The hon. Gentleman asked about actual expenditure and not about approved starts. In those particular years there were comparative low pupil numbers in the primary schools in the earlier years and a very high increase in primary school pupils in the latter years. This must also be considered in conjunction with the figures.

Mr. Lane

Is my right hon. Friend aware how welcome is her decision to step up considerably the primary school improvement programme over the next few years? Is this not another example of the present Government getting their educational priorities right?

Mrs. Thatcher

I am grateful for what my hon. Friend says. The primary school improvement programme will be an all-time record.

Mr. Alan Williams

Will the right hon. Lady not recognise that at this stage when we are about to enter a period when the children in the next stage of education will increase in number, it would appear to be a peculiar priority to cut back expenditure in that sector?

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Mrs. Thatcher

I am not cutting back expenditure on that scheme. The raising of the school-leaving age building programme has mostly been allocated; again, unlike the former Government, I am not cutting it.

40. Mr. Leadbitter

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many schools were built in the six years preceding 1964; and what is the figure for the period 1964 to 1970.

Mr. van Straubenzee

2,789 and 3,979 respectively in England and Wales. But the school population rose almost five times as fast in the second period as in the first.

Mr. Leadbitter

Although I think it can be taken for granted that the hon. Gentleman will not accuse the Labour Government of being responsible for the population explosion, does he agree that this remarkable improvement in the school building programme must be kept up by the Tory Government, and will he guarantee that the momentum will not be lost?

Mr. van Straubenzee

The priorities outlined by my right hon. Friend have been widely welcomed, particularly her emphasis on the primary side that is revealed by the figures which I have given.

Mr. Mudd

Does my hon. Friend accept that many schools built from 1964 onwards were approved by the Administration in power before 1964?

Mr. van Straubenzee

It would not be the first time that the Labour Party has taken credit for preparations made by the Conservative Party.

41. Mr. Leadbitter

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what was the capital expenditure on school buildings in 1963–64; what was the figure for the year 1969–70; and what percentage difference these figures represent.

Mr. van Straubenzee

In England and Wales £137 million and £180 million respectively at constant prices; an increase of 31.4 per cent.

Mr. Leadbitter

Again, will the hon. Gentleman agree that his Department has inherited a remarkable improvement and give a guarantee to the House that this rate of increase will be continued?

[column 1402]

Mr. van Straubenzee

It is another example of the excellent preparations made, but it also illustrates the necessity of increasing the health of the economy to sustain this expenditure.

Direct-grant Schools

2. Mr. Armstrong

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what proposals she has for upholding the freedom of local education authorities to choose whether or not to take up places in direct-grant schools; and if she will make a statement.

Mrs. Thatcher

The Government value the contributions that the direct-grant schools make to the public system of education and hope that it will continue.

Mr. Armstrong

Is the Secretary of State aware that she has constantly stated that local authorities know best what is right for their own areas, and will she give a guarantee that they will continue to have full autonomy? Secondly, is she aware that the country will regard it as a perversion of priorities if primary school milk is withdrawn and public money is spent on selective education for the privileged few?

Mrs. Thatcher

Local education authorities have a right to take up a certain proportion of places at the direct-grant schools if they so wish. I am not disturbing that right in any way.

Independent Schools

3. Mr. Marks

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will refuse to sanction the opening of any independent school for children of compulsory school age which is not purpose-built and whose teachers have not received approved training.

Mrs. Thatcher

My approval is not required to the opening of an independent school.

Mr. Marks

But is the right hon. Lady aware that, according to the Public School Commission, 25 per cent. of the teachers in the recognised schools are unqualified. Could she say how many teachers in the unrecognised schools are unqualified, and will she do something about it?

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Mrs. Thatcher

If the hon. Gentleman wishes to put down a Question to that effect I will answer it, but it is not my intention to rule out the independent school on the basis of unqualified teachers.

Mr. Alan Williams

Will the Secretary of State not accept that there is bound to be public concern about the quality of teaching when letters are sent, such as one that was sent to me on 26th October from her hon. Friend, referring to a teacher as being unsuitable for teaching in maintained schools and then going on to say “I am sure the best advice I can give is that she should settle into a permanent full-time post in a suitable independent school” ?

Mrs. Thatcher

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman would also take into account that I have had many representations from the Opposition benches to keep on unqualified teachers who otherwise would have been sacked.

Mr. Fowler

In regard to the purposebuilt schools, would the right hon. Lady not agree that the last Government in pushing through comprehensive schools had the effect in constituencies like mine of creating schools where buildings, far from being purpose-built, are a mile away from one another? Would the Ministry give priority to tackling that kind of thing?

Mrs. Thatcher

I think there is a great deal of truth in what my hon. Friend says, and I ask the Opposition benches to take note.

Public Schools Commission (Reports)

4. Mr. Marks

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what action she now proposes to take on the reports of the Public Schools Commission.

Mrs. Thatcher

None, Sir.

Mr. Marks

Is the right hon. Lady aware that the Public Schools Commission said that the independent schools were a divisive influence on society? Will she not do something to end this divisiveness? If not, will she resign from a Cabinet that contains a Prime Minister who claims to believe in “one nation” ?

Mrs. Thatcher

I am a great believer in having an independent sector in education, and I never want to have a situation in which there is a State monopoly in education since that would be the worst of all possible worlds.

Examinations (Timing)

Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will institute an inquiry with a view to legislation to transfer school and university examinations from June to some other month, in order to permit the switching of holidays for children and parents from the normally wet month of August to the normally fine month of June.

Mrs. Thatcher

No, Sir.

Mr. Allaun

Is the right hon. Lady aware that the average rainfall in the last 10 Augusts was 86 mm. compared with 61 mm. in the last 10 Junes? Therefore, since many families, including their children, are forced to spend wet and miserable holidays in August, would she listen to the directors of education, who say that it is practicable to alter the examination dates?

Mrs. Thatcher

The Department put out a document some five years ago asking for the views of people on changing the time at which examinations were held. It met with no favourable response, and it seems that people prefer to have the examinations in June.

Social Service Work (Senior Pupils)

6. Mr. Greville Janner

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether she will seek powers to promote social service work by senior pupils.

Mrs. Thatcher

No, Sir. Social service work by school pupils is a matter for local and voluntary initiatives.

Mr. Janner

Is the right hon. Lady aware of the excellent work being done by senior pupils in Leicester and elsewhere, particularly among elderly and ill people, and will she not take positive steps to encourage that work?

Mrs. Thatcher

Yes, Sir, I am aware of it and applaud it. The Schools Council put out a working paper entitled “Community Service and the Curriculum” . It is doing a great deal of work [column 1405]and I applaud the amount of work that is going on in the schools of Leicester and elsewhere.

Miss Lestor

The Secretary of State no doubt is aware that in June this year there was a circular in the Department ready to go out suggesting that there should be voluntary work in schools. Is the circular going out, and is it her intention to promote this sort of thing directly from the Department?

Mrs. Thatcher

Documents of a previous Administration are, I believe rightly, not available to those in a successive Administration.

Mr. Lane

Is my right hon. Friend aware that my constituency is another area where a lot of this excellent work is done, and will she continue to set her face against any compulsion from the centre?

Mrs. Thatcher

I will indeed.

School Transport

7. Sir J. Langford-Holt

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether she will take steps to authorise local educational authorities in rural areas to exercise discretion on the two-mile limit for school transport where no public transport is available and where roads carrying heavy traffic have to be used by children.

Mrs. Thatcher

Local education authorities already have discretionary powers to provide or pay for transport to school for children who live nearer to school than the statutory walking distances.

Education Expenditure

9. Mr. William Price

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what was the total amount of public money spent on education in 1963–64; and what is the estimated figure for 1970–71 at current prices.

Mrs. Thatcher

Sums of £1,434 million and £2,030 million respectively, at constant prices, for expenditure on universities in Great Britain and other educational expenditure in England and Wales.

Mr. Price

Would the Minister not agree that that was a remarkable increase [column 1406]under a Labour Government? Would she give an assurance that there will be a similar increase in percentage terms under the present Administration—assuming it lasts that long?

Mrs. Thatcher

I agree that it was a quite large increase, but the hon. Gentleman will be hard put to it to find, whatever Government was in power, a year in which there had been a decrease.

Captain W. Elliot

Would not my right hon. Friend agree that during that period the school population rose enormously and that, in fact, the expenditure per student probably decreased?

Mrs. Thatcher

The school population certainly went up and will continue to go up with the raising of the school-leaving age, which the last Government deferred.

Higher Education

12. Mr. Blenkinsop

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what action she proposes to take to encourage more children in the Northern Region to stay in full-time education after 15 years of age.

Mr. van Straubenzee

This rests in the last resort with the boys and girls themselves and with their parents. The local education authorities concerned will offer every encouragement, and my right hon. Friend is ready to consider any needs they may represent to her for increases in their quota of teachers for this purpose. Building allocations have already been made to accommodate the whole age-group when the school-leaving age is raised to 16 in 1972–73.

Mr. Blenkinsop

Has the Minister had his attention drawn to the report of the North Eastern Economic Planning Council which urges the speeding up of comprehensive school plans because this has proved to be the best way of encouraging children and parents in regard to longer periods of education at school?

Mr. van Straubenzee

Naturally, this important report mentioned by the hon. Gentleman has been carefully studied, and I am sure that the hon. Gentleman rejoices in the increasing percentage of pupils staying on at school, as revealed by the report.

[column 1407]

Dame Irene Ward

I know that the hon. Gentleman has been looking at our education system in the North-East. Would he suggest to his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State that since there are so many Questions on the Order Paper about education in the North-East we would welcome a conference presided over by the Secretary of State so that we could get on a bit further with what we need on the North-East Coast?

Mr. van Straubenzee

I am sure that all these are matters to be discussed, but I acknowledge how fervently my hon. Friend represents the interests of the North-East, which she does so extremely well.

38. Mr. Longden

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many students at the latest convenient date are now in higher education; how many of these are in universities; how many receive the full grant with no parental contribution; and how many receive the grant less an assessed parental contribution.

Mr. van Straubenzee

About 410,000 full-time students in Great Britain in 1968–69, including overseas students. Of these 211,000 were in universities. About 315,000 received grants for first degree or comparable courses or for teacher training, which were assessed on the basis of parental income. The number whose grants were not reduced by a parental contribution is not known.

Mr. Longden

I thank my hon. Friend and his Department for the trouble they have taken to get out those figures. When I have had time to digest them, may I put my supplementary question in the form of a Question on the Order Paper at a later date?

Mr. van Straubenzee

I think that that would be mutually convenient.

Mr. Edwin Wainwright

Will the Minister ask his Department to look closely into the grants made to students, especially proportionate grants? Many students who are the children of rich parents do not receive the contribution from their parents and are therefore in dire need.

Mr. van Straubenzee

I am aware of this problem, but the hon. Gentleman, [column 1408]who studies it closely, too, will know that to abolish the means test totally would cost about £40 million, and I can think of higher priorities than this.

Universities and Polytechnics

14. Mrs. Castle

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many universities and polytechnics there are in the North-West, North-East and Midlands Regions, respectively; and what is the population in each case.

Mr. van Straubenzee

Eight in the North-West Economic Planning Region, five in the Northern Region and 12 in the East and the West Midlands Regions. The populations in 1969 were approximately 6.8 millions, 3.3 millions and 8.5 millions respectively.

Mrs. Castle

Is it not clear from these figures that the North-West Region does not get its full and fair share of facilities for further education and higher education? Could the hon. Gentleman say when it is intended to extend these facilities, and will he particularly look at the needs of North-East Lancashire, which has not a single polytechnic? Will he ask his right hon. Friend to give us an assurance that the advanced courses in Blackburn will be retained as the basis on which a polytechnic in North-East Lancashire could in due course be built?

Mr. van Straubenzee

If the right hon. Lady will look at the statistics she will find that her conclusion is not right, particularly if she is thinking of students-to-population. I hope she will agree that both the universities and the polytechnics should be regarded in a national context.

Mrs. Castle

But could I have a reply to my question about the polytechnic in North-East Lancashire and the advanced courses in Blackburn?

Mr. van Straubenzee

My right hon. Friend has no intention at present of designating polytechnics additional to those which have been publicly announced, but obviously the claim put forward by the right hon. Lady will be seriously considered in the event of that being so.

Mr. Alan Williams

Would the hon. Gentlemen bear in mind that there are [column 1409]already in existence in Blackburn first-class business study facilities, that Blackburn is itself a major headquarter centre for many firms in the region; and that it seems appropriate, in view of the management training needs in Blackburn, that the management study section should be preserved?

Mr. van Straubenzee

Yes, but the hon. Gentleman will be aware that there was widespread agreement with the proposal announced in August by my right hon. Friend.

Mr. Arthur Lewis

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I give notice that I intend to raise a point or order at the end of Questions.

30. Mr. Alec Jones

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether she will take steps to set up a clearing house organisation for students seeking admission to polytechnics.

Mr. van Straubenzee

This idea has been under discussion, but there are certain difficulties. It is primarily for the polytechnic authorities themselves to consider what might be practicable.

Mr. Jones

Does the hon. Gentleman appreciate that many students who have failed to secure admission to universities are anxious to get into these polytechnics, and that it is extremely difficult, unless we establish some kind of clearing house, for these students to know the number of places available in the polytechnics?

Mr. van Straubenzee

I am not hostile to what the hon. Gentleman is seeking to do. But I put it to him that there are problems with a clearing house procedure in any way analogous to that of the universities. For example, we must consider whether it should simply cover degree course work only. This is the kind of problem which makes it so much more difficult.

Mr. Alan Williams

This is an important practical problem. Will the Minister at least initiate discussions on the practicality and need for such a clearing house?

Mr. van Straubenzee

We are certainly receptive to any practical ideas. The hon. Gentleman has great experience and knows the problems of dealing with polytechnics.

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35. Mr. Lane

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what are her plans for further expansion of polytechnics during the next five years.

Mrs. Thatcher

The polytechnics will certainly be expanded but the rate at which this will be possible during the next five years will depend on the Government's decisions about the development of higher education.

Mr. Lane

Does my right hon. Friend accept that there are strong reasons, in the development of higher education generally, for a large part of the growth to be in the polytechnics, thus easing somewhat the strain of expansion in the universities?

Mrs. Thatcher

I accept that a good portion of the growth will come in the polytechnics. With this in mind there is a good building programme going ahead at the moment.

Mr. Kinnock

While I am happy to hear the Secretary of State speak of the expansion of polytechnic facilities, may I ask whether she will tell us, with reference to an earlier Question, how she will ensure the maximum use of facilities at those polytechnics if her Department does not take steps to ensure that as many qualified students as possible know about the places available at polytechnics?

Mrs. Thatcher

When I go round the schools I frequently point out to teachers—particularly those in sixth forms—the need to tell the children more about polytechnics and not always to advise them to go to universities. I believe that the more we do this the better it will be both for the intake to the polytechnics and for those who are eventually coming out to find jobs.

Handicapped Children

15. Mr. Ashley

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will establish a committee with the following terms of reference, namely, to investigate the special problems involved in the education of deaf children, to evaluate the educational standards reached by deaf children, to survey the further education prospects for the deaf school leaver, and to make recommendations for assisting deaf children to fulfil their potential.

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Mrs. Thatcher

I know the hon. Member's great concern for the problems likely to affect the educational attainment of these children, but I do not think it necessary to establish a further committee. The Lewis Committee which reported in 1968 considered some of the problems of children with impaired hearing and speech.

Further, a group of Her Majesty's inspectors are currently conducting an investigation into the language development of 10-year-old deaf children, and the Principal Medical Officer in the Department is conducting a survey of the communication skills of children in schools for the deaf.

Mr. Ashley

Is the right hon. Lady aware that the terms of reference of the Lewis Committee were very narrow and that its recommendations have not been implemented? Would she at least consider establishing a committee to evaluate the educational standards of deaf children so that we may know the size and nature of the problem?

Mrs. Thatcher

I agree that the terms of reference of the Lewis Committee were narrow, but before setting up any other committee or considering it, I would like to see what results emerge from the two surveys of which I spoke in my original answer.

16. Mr. Ashley

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will take steps to direct local education authorities to provide her with information on the provisions made for the education of children suffering from blindness and deafness, autism and other forms of early childhood psychosis, and acute dyslexia, respectively.

Mrs. Thatcher

I asked local education authorities in July for information about the provision made for the education of children suffering from difficulties of both sight and hearing, and am considering issuing a similar request in respect of autistic children. I am not at present convinced that similar action is required in connection with children experiencing particular difficulty in learning to read and write, which may be due to a variety of causes.

Mr. Ashley

I welcome the first part of that reply, but as the problems of [column 1412]children suffering from dyslexia are serious and seriously underestimated, would the right hon. Lady reconsider what can be done for them?

Mrs. Thatcher

I am always prepared to reconsider, but I think that the difficulties of reading extend to a wider group than the hon. Gentleman has in mind.

Secondary Education

(Saddleworth)

17. Mr. David Clark

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many pupils were considered for selection for secondary education in the Saddleworth Education Division of the West Riding in each of the last five years; and how many children were given selective secondary places in each of the five years.

Mr. van Straubenzee

The Department does not collect detailed information of this kind.

Mr. Clark

I am rather surprised to hear this, because the Minister gave me comparable figures for the next education district. Would he not accept that this is just the West Riding Education Committee hiding under a cloud of secrecy to cover up its own deficiencies?

Mr. van Straubenzee

No, I think that it is not doing that. It assures me that it would be happy to correspond or discuss the matter with the hon. Gentleman if he so wishes.

Mr. Clark

On a point of order. Because of the unsatisfactory nature of that reply, I wish to notify you, Mr. Speaker, that I intend to raise the matter on the Adjournment as early as possible.

Microwave Radiation

18. Mr. John Hall

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if the Medical Research Council's Nonionising Radiation Committee has completed its consideration of the effects of microwave radiation, including radiation from microwave ovens.

Mrs. Thatcher

Yes, Sir. The Committee's recommendations have been accepted by the Medical Research Council and arrangements are being made for their publication.

Mr. Hall

Do the recommendations ensure that proper safety precautions are [column 1413]taken to prevent the emission of harmful radiation from microwave ovens, which are increasingly used in this country?

Mrs. Thatcher

The Committee has had the safety of microwave ovens under review, but it does not recommend any change which would affect the use of microwave ovens operating within frequencies which are internationally permitted for heating equipment. But I will send my hon. Friend a copy of the recommendations.

Colleges of Education (Lecturers)

19. Mr. Hardy

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many lecturers on the staffs of colleges of education have less than five years teaching experience in State schools.

Mr. van Straubenzee

I regret this information is not available, but what evidence we have indicates that the proportion of such lecturers is low.

Mr. Hardy

Will the hon. Gentleman ensure that this question is put on the agenda of the proposed inquiry into teacher training? Will he take note that many, perhaps most, experienced teachers are very concerned that those responsible for professional subjects and for the provision of teaching practice should have adequate and relevant classroom experience?

Mr. van Straubenzee

I would not want my answer to indicate any complacency. I cannot believe that the inquiry will not have this under surveillance.

Teaching of Reading

20. Mr. Hardy

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is the number and proportion of students in colleges and departments of education who receive no instruction in the teaching of reading.

Mr. van Straubenzee

A survey completed earlier this year showed that all students in the colleges sampled had received some instruction in the subject.

Mr. Hardy

Will the hon. Gentleman take steps to ensure that adequate instruction is given to all students in colleges and departments of education, particularly since it is obvious that the vast majority of teachers sooner or later in their careers are involved in class [column 1414]teaching and need to know a good deal about this important subject?

Mr. van Straubenzee

This question, I think, will almost certainly be a matter which the inquiry will consider, but the hon. Gentleman will be aware that it was only very recently that A.T.Os were asked to investigate, or had their attention drawn to, this matter, at the request of the previous Secretary of State.

Maintained Schools

21. Mr. Spearing

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is the estimated percentage increase in primary and secondary school population in maintained schools between 1970 and 1975.

Mr. van Straubenzee

12.9 per cent. in England and Wales.

Mr. Spearing

Will the hon. Gentleman perhaps clarify that? The question applied to primary and secondary school populations separately.

Mr. van Straubenzee

The answer is that for primary it is an increase of 3.6 per cent. and for secondary it is 28.1 per cent.

Mr. Mudd

Would my hon. Friend accept that the shortfall for Cornwall shows an increase of 0.8 per cent. of the national average, and that this can be corrected only by the immediate infusion of £250,000 to the Cornwall Education Committee?

Mr. van Straubenzee

Keen though I am on my job, I am afraid that I do not keep individual l.e.a. figures in my mind. But I will do my best to answer the question if the hon. Gentleman will put it down.

Mr. Alan Williams

But would the hon. Gentleman not agree that this confirms an earlier point of mine, that since the birthrate rose in 1964 it is utterly illogical to be cutting back on the priority for the secondary phase at this stage?

Mr. van Straubenzee

The hon. Gentleman will talk of cutting back. Over the period in question major school building programmes to the value of about £700 million are expected to yield about 750,000 primary school places and getting on for 1 million secondary school places. This is a very encouraging situation.

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Socially-maladjusted Children

22. Mr. Spearing

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will take steps to ensure that local authorities are providing adequate facilities in ordinary schools for dealing with pupils who are socially maladjusted.

Mrs. Thatcher

It is for each local education authority to decide whether more special classes in its schools are required. The provision of additional places for maladjusted children in special schools or in special classes in ordinary schools is given high priority in the special education building programme.

Mr. Spearing

I thank the right hon. Lady for that reply, but can she assure us that she will take steps to find out the national picture, which I believe is her responsibility?

Mrs. Thatcher

Of course we have some idea of the national picture, and we have arranged that building projects due to start next year will provide over 500 new places for maladjusted children.

Unqualified Teachers

23. Mr. Ashton

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether she will seek powers to compel local authorities who have dismissed unqualified teachers with the equivalent of 10 years' service to pay compensation at least equivalent to redundancy pay.

Mrs. Thatcher

I know of the hon. Gentleman's interest in this but the answer is “No, Sir” .

Mr. Ashton

Does the right hon. Lady not agree that a figure of over 500 teachers who have been dismissed without any form of compensation, pension or redundancy pay, many of them at the age of 58 or 59, when they cannot get other jobs or are too late to train for another job, is a national scandal which in private industry would have created strikes and a great outcry?

Mrs. Thatcher

These are the unqualified teachers who, it has been ruled, are not entitled to redundancy pay within the terms of the Redundancy Payments Act, 1965. I have made inquiries and find that local authorities already have powers to pay gratuities to employees [column 1416]who are not entitled to superannuation benefits. The powers are discretionary, but the amount of the gratuity may be up to two years' salary.

Mr. Marten

Was not the national scandal to which the hon. Member referred part of the policy of the Opposition? Can my right hon. Friend say approximately how many unqualified teachers have been kept on?

Mrs. Thatcher

No, Sir, I could not offhand, but I can assure my hon. Friend—I believe he knows this—that we tried to interpret the Regulations as sympathetically as possible, especially where the local education authorities recommended that an unqualified teacher be given qualified status.

Size of Classes

24. Mr. John Hall

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is her policy regarding a target for the size of classes in primary and secondary schools; and over what period it is intended to achieve this target.

Mrs. Thatcher

I believe that pupil/teacher ratios provide a better index of staffing standards than class sizes. I expect that the number of pupils per qualified teacher will fall from about 23.2 in 1969–70 to about 21 in 1974–75.

Mr. Hall

That is a very welcome development. Would my right hon. Friend not agree that the primary essential in education is small classes and first-class teachers? Should that not be the first demand on educational expenditure? Would she direct her attention to that end?

Mrs. Thatcher

I agree that it is our task to provide as many teachers of high quality as we possibly can, and it is our policy to try to do that.

Mr. William Price

Would the right hon. Lady not agree that this will cost a great deal of money? Would she now answer the question that I have already put twice this afternoon? Can she forecast the percentage increase in the money spent on education generally over the next five years over what we have had in the last five years?

Mrs. Thatcher

I shall be happy, at the end of that time, for my record to be [column 1417]judged in relation to the record of E. Shortthe last Minister.

Mr. Alan Williams

I am sure that the right hon. Lady will appreciate that her answer could cause a certain amount of concern, since it could be interpreted as her dropping the objective of stopping all classes over the size of 30—setting a limit of 30 on class size? She has changed the emphasis in her initial answer. Would she now say categorically that she stands by our decision that class size limits should be 30 in all schools?

Mrs. Thatcher

As I should have thought that the hon. Gentleman would know, how a headmaster disposes of the teachers in his school around the classes is a matter for him and not for a Minister.

Museums and Galleries (Admission Charges)

25. Mr. Strauss

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether the anticipated revenues of £1 million from the imposition of entrance fees to museums and galleries will be used to provide additional funds for the improvement of their facilities and the purchase of exhibits.

Mr. van Straubenzee

The revenue from entrance fees will increase the resources from which all public services, including the museums and galleries, are defrayed.

Mr. Strauss

Does not that mean that this will be a tax like any other Revenue tax, and that the amount of money available to the museums and galleries in future will-in no way be related to the amount brought in by this tax?

Mr. van Straubenzee

It means that the Government are following the normal practice, that any particular sum collected is not necessarily applied to a particular object.

Mr. Faulds

rose—[Interruption.]

Mr. Faulds

I am grateful for that susurrus of support, which seemed to my ears to emanate from all parts of the House. I trust that it will continue.

Has the Minister seen the strictures of Mr. Hugh Leggatt on this penny-pinching scheme of the Government's? Bearing in mind that he is a distinguished art [column 1418]dealer who has loaned and given many paintings to various of the national collections and now threatens to withdraw them, perhaps the Minister will listen to the advice of those who know rather more about these matters than he does?

Hon Members

Oh!

Mr. van Straubenzee

I readily acknowledge that I know much less about artistic matters than Mr. Leggatt. I gladly say that. But I apologise because, first, on behalf of the whole House, I should have welcomed the hon. Gentleman in his new important tasks. I hope that he will not cencentrate unduly on the theatre.

It is worth reflecting that Mr. Leggatt would not have been able to make these generous loans to any of the municipal galleries which already charge for admission.

Mr. Charles Morrison

Whilst supporting the general principle of charges to museums, may I ask whether my hon. Friend agrees that the application of funds from receipts at any particular museum would give an incentive to those who manage it to improve the facilities?

Mr. van Straubenzee

I follow my hon. Friend's argument. I hope that he will accept, however, the difficulty of specifically allocating to a specific object charges raised in a particular way.

26. Mr. Strauss

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science which museums and galleries are to impose entrance fees; who will decide the amount of such fees; and what exemptions from payment will be made.

Mr. van Straubenzee

I would refer the hon. Member to my reply of 11th November to the hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg) for a list of museums and galleries concerned. The institutions are being asked to give their views about the amount of the fees to be charged and which categories of visitors should be exempted.—[Vol. 806, c. 199–200.]

Mr. Strauss

In pursuing this matter, will the Minister bear in mind that all who are anxious to make the arts more accessible to the people endorse the verdict of The Guardian of 3rd November when it said that “to end Britain's long [column 1419]and honourable tradition of free admission to its arts and galleries is means and philistine” ?

Mr. van Straubenzee

I acknowledge that the right hon. Gentleman has played a distinguished part in this sphere. It must be accepted that there are differences of view. But I gladly take this opportunity to say clearly, with the full authority of my noble Friend, that reports appearing in this morning's Press are totally without foundation.

Mr. Leonard

Will the Minister give a categorical assurance that in no circumstances will charges for admission be made to scholars using the reading room at the British Museum?

Mr. van Straubenzee

That is the kind of point on which the institutions are now being asked to give their views.

Mr. Dykes

Does the Minister also agree, in relation to previous answers, that a principle of reduced charges may be considered, as well as exemptions, bearing in mind that there is good evidence in the rest of the world that with charges museum attendances have also gone up?

Mr. van Straubenzee

I am obliged to my hon. Friend. That is the kind of consideration which is now being inquired into.

Technician Courses and Examinations

31. Mr. Rhodes

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is Her Majesty's Government's policy concerning the Report on Technician Courses and Examinations, produced by a committee of the National Advisory Council on Education for Industry and Commerce, under the chairmanship of Dr. H. L. Haslegrave, a copy of which is in her possession.

56. Miss Quennell

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science when she will make a statement on the Haslegrave Report.

Mrs. Thatcher

I warmly welcome Dr. Haslegrave's valuable report, which I have now received from the National Advisory Council on Education for Industry and Commerce, together with the council's advice on the views expressed by the many interested bodies. I have [column 1420]approved in principle the main administrative recommendations addressed to me. My Department will now begin discussions and negotiations with a view to implementing these recommendations.

Mr. Rhodes

I thank the right hon. Lady for that reply. But will she specifically say whether she accepts in principle the recommendations on the functions and the composition of the Business Education Council and the Technician Education Council? When will the right hon. Lady be able to make an announcement about the personnel who will serve on those councils? Does the Secretary of State also accept in principle the recommendation that the C.G.L.I. should be the administering body to serve these councils?

Mrs. Thatcher

I accept the recommendation in the report about establishing a Technician Education Council and a Business Education Council. Negotiations will begin fairly quickly with those likely to be most directly concerned with the administrative organisation of these councils.

School-leaving Age

34. Mr. Lane

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether she will make a statement on the progress of preparations for raising the school-leaving age.

Mrs. Thatcher

Good progress is being made in teacher supply, the provision of buildings and curriculum development. I am now reviewing developments in order to consider whether any further preparations are necessary either centrally or locally.

Mr. Lane

I welcome that answer. Does my right hon. Friend agree that the raising of the school-leaving age, which I strongly support, is likely to be successful only if the new final year takes a radically different shape from hitherto? Will my right hon. Friend's Department be ready to give all possible help in working out the curriculum development which she mentioned?

Mrs. Thatcher

I accept what my hon. Friend said. It is for this reason that we are giving so much attention—as much as we can—through the Schools Council to the curriculum in the final year.

[column 1421]

Miss Lestor

Bearing in mind the increase in the annual output of teachers during our Administration, plus the £125 million allocated to meet the needs of increasing the school-leaving age, may I ask the right hon. Lady whether she will withdraw the comment which she made at the Tory Party conference that we had raised the school-leaving age and she had been left to find the money to implement it?

Mrs. Thatcher

I thought that the points which I made were extremely valid. We made provision to raise the school-leaving age, but the party opposite did not honour that provision. The party opposite made provision to raise the school-leaving age, and we are left to honour it. We shall.

Dean Primary School, Alresford

36. Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what submissions she has received concerning her approval for the rebuilding of the Dean Primary School at Alresford; and what reply she has sent.

Mr. van Straubenzee

My right hon. Friend is including a replacement for the Dean County Junior School, New Alresford, in the Hampshire local authority's design list, 1971–72. The building work can be expected to start in the financial year 1972–73.

Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles

Will the Minister go full steam ahead with this scheme? Does he realise that the existing school was built in 1887 and that is quite inadequate for the growing community in Alresford?

Mr. van Straubenzee

My hon. and gallant Friend must appreciate that the responsibility now passes to the capable hands of the Hampshire L.E.A. It is on them that he should train his guns.

Scottish Universities

37. Mr. Gregor Mackenzie

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what plans she has for university expansion in Scotland; and what is the estimated cost of this programme.

Mr. van Straubenzee

The University Grants Committee has allocated £7.3 million for building projects at Scottish [column 1422]universities in the 1970–71 and 1971–72 programmes. No decisions have yet been taken on any further expansion.

Mr. Mackenzie

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Scottish vice-chancellors are disturbed at the lack of evidence that the present Administration interest themselves in the whole problem of university expansion? In view of the cuts which have been made in the education programme and the policy of doing more school building, will he not devote more of his resources to the universities, particularly to engineering places in Scottish universities?

Mr. van Straubenzee

I think the hon. Gentleman knows that successive Secretaries of State are concerned only with the total value of the programme negotiated with the University Grants Committee. It is therefore not appropriate for me to comment upon the way in which the money is allocated within the total.

Mr. Douglas

Will the Minister say what proportion of the building allocation to Scottish universities might be devoted to the Scottish Business School in the forthcoming year?

Mr. van Straubenzee

Not without notice.