Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1971 Apr 1 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 [814/1647-67]
Journalist: -
Editorial comments: 1430-1515.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 7564
Themes: Education, Private education, Secondary education, Higher & further education, Pay, Taxation, Health policy, Law & order, Social security & welfare, Women
[column 1647]

EDUCATION AND SCIENCE

Havering

1. Mr. Leonard

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many primary school classes of more than 40 children there are in the London Borough of Havering; and what steps are being taken to eliminate overcrowding in primary schools in the borough.

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

In January, 1970, 150. Figures for 1971 are not readily available but should be lower. 560 additional places will be provided by two new primary schools approved for starting in the period up to March, 1973.

Mr. Leonard

I welcome the progress which has been made, but is the hon. Gentleman aware that there are no [column 1648]grounds for satisfaction about the present position in Havering, which has easily the worst record for over-crowded classes of any London borough? Will the hon. Gentleman impress on the borough that to reduce the size of over-crowded classes must take priority over cutting local rates, which the council has perversely chosen to do this year?

Mr. van Straubenzee

I have no doubt that the position in Havering, which I accept is unsatisfactory, is very much in the mind of the local education authority.

2. Mr. Leonard

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what revised proposals she has received, since 18th June, 1970, from the London Borough of Havering, concerning the reorganisation of secondary education within the borough.

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

None, Sir.

Mr. Leonard

Is the right hon. Lady aware that, despite the fact that all parents in the borough of Havering have received a personal letter from the education office assuring them that all the secondary schools in the borough will go comprehensive by 1972, the council is now actively considering a scheme which will introduce a super selective élite system of education, with 12 per cent. selection as against the present 25 per cent.? Will the right hon. Lady indicate sternly to the council that this is a gross breach of faith with both teachers and parents in the borough?

Mrs. Thatcher

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving me the opportunity of pointing out that there can be no change in the character of any school unless the proper legal procedure under Section 13 of the Education Act, 1944, has been carried out, which gives two months for individual objections. Non-statutory plans have no basis whatsoever in law. It is only the legal procedure which counts.

Student Grants

3. Mr. Lane

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether she will now make a further statement on the review of student grants.

[column 1649]

9. Mr. Ashley

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what representations she has received from the National Union of Students about students' grants; and what reply she has sent.

29. Mr. Barnes

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will now make a statement on the review which she has carried out to determine the level of student grants for the period beginning 1st September, 1971.

Mrs. Thatcher

The National Union of Students has submitted a claim for higher rates of grant and other changes in the student support system. As we are still dealing with Stage II of the procedure, I am not yet ready to make a statement but will do so when the review is complete.

Mr. Lane

I appreciate that, but can my right hon. Friend confirm that, whatever change may be made by the Government in the level of grants, she will do everything she can to remove or at least lessen the inequities in the system as between one system and another and one group of students and another?

Mrs. Thatcher

Stage II is concerned with determining the total sum and stage III is concerned with discussions to agree on the distribution of that total sum. If my hon. Friend is concerned with the position as between mandatory and discretionary grants, any change in that respect would require legislation.

Mr. Ashley

Does the Secretary of State recall that she indicated to the House that she would make a statement this month? Would she do that without delay and perhaps take into account the fact that students are not among the surtax payers who were helped in the Budget?

Mrs. Thatcher

I said that I would not be ready to make a statement before April, and the procedure is taking a little longer than we thought it would. I shall bear in mind what the hon. Gentleman said. But some students' parents benefited in the Budget.

Mr. Barnes

Will the Secretary of State pay particular attention to the way in [column 1650]which the parental means test is straining family relationships in cases in which parents cannot afford what their sons and daughters need? Will she give an assurance that she will raise the base of the parental means test and make consequent adjustments to the rest of the scale?

Mrs. Thatcher

The parental contribution is one of the things that will be considered in conjunction with the vice-chancellors, local authorities and student bodies under Stage III of the negotiations.

Mr. Alan Williams

The House will welcome the comment which the right hon. Lady has just made, but to help in the discussion of alternative methods, will she ask her right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to give the House an estimate of the administrative cost of replacing the present means testing system by a system of uniform grants coupled with a tax claw-back of parental contributions?

Mrs. Thatcher

This is a difficult calculation to make. The National Union of Students gave us to understand that on its calculation the cost would be about £2 million. I have been doing some investigations and can find no basis for that figure from our statistics.

Mr. Freeson

Will the right hon. Lady assure us that she has not closed her mind to the possibility of legislating a change of structure of student grants, apart from the immediate issue of reviewing the level?

Mrs. Thatcher

I have not closed my mind, but even if the policy were agreed—and that is a matter for debate—there would be the question of finding legislative time. There is no decision on the policy matter, and I should not like to give the impression that there is.

Sir G. Nabarro

Whereas all parents are grateful for the increase of £40 per annum in the income tax allowance for all children of all ages, does not my right hon. Friend recognise that there is a powerful case for a special increased allowance for income tax purposes for boys and girls at universities or on similar courses, and that that would be the proper way of tackling this question instead of tinkering about with the present system, which is hopeless anyway?

[column 1651]

Mrs. Thatcher

I am not responsible for the tax allowances, but my recollection is—and perhaps my hon. Friend will check this with A. Barberthe Chancellor of the Exchequer—that child allowances are available so long as the child is in receipt of full-time education, and that applies to both college and university students.

Local Authority Education Committees (Teacher Representation)

4. Mr. Barry Jones

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is her policy on the representation of teachers on local authority education committees; and what is her estimate of the effect of local government reform upon existing teacher representation on education committees.

Mrs. Thatcher

Teachers have an important contribution to make to the work of education committees and I strongly support their appointment. The present arrangements for establishing education committees will be included in the review referred to in paragraph 46 of the White Paper.

Mr. Jones

Is the Secretary of State aware that some local education authorities deny representation altogether, while others deny representation on important sub-committees? Is she also aware that some local education authorities co-opt to their committees pliant and tame teachers rather than teachers elected by ballot in the locality? What determined action will her Department take to ensure that the principle of teacher representation is safeguarded both currently and in local government reorganisation?

Mrs. Thatcher

Although the Act does not require teacher representation, in practice 135 out of a total of 163 local education authorities provide explicitly for this. Of the remaining 28, all but two provide specifically for the co-option of non-councillor members. It can reasonably be assumed that most of these take advantage of this to include teachers as members. That leaves only two out of the total.

Teaching Profession

5. Mr. Barry Jones

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what measures she proposes to make the teaching profession more attractive to would-be entrants.

[column 1652]

Mrs. Thatcher

There were 18,500 more teachers in maintained schools in October, 1970 than in October, 1969. This was the largest increase ever. The latest figures suggest that a higher proportion are remaining in the profession.

Mr. Jones

Is the Secretary of State aware that the number of suitable applicants for training in the teaching profession declined last year? Does she agree that salaries are the principal factor in this decline and will she not consider coming out in defence of the profession and denouncing the ramshackle and derisive pay increase currently offered by the management?

Mrs. Thatcher

The number of applicants to the colleges of education was down—that is to say, the non-graduate applicants for teaching were fewer—but there were more graduate applicants, so there is a net increase in the number of people coming into teaching.

Mr. Alan Williams

Does not the right hon. Lady agree that her answer merely demonstrates the problem being encountered at the moment by graduates in finding employment and has no long-term significance?

Mrs. Thatcher

No, I would not agree. A large number of graduates are interested in coming into teaching as teaching.

13. Mr. Scott-Hopkins

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will ensure a new salary structure for the teaching profession which gives added incentives to those with added responsibilities and those who intend to make it a lifelong career.

Mrs. Thatcher

The reformed pay structure proposed by the management panel of the Burnham Committee, on which I have two representatives, is designed to achieve these objectives.

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

Does my right hon. Friend agree that a most important factor is to provide a career structure which will make it worth while for men and women to stay in teaching as long as possible? Does she also agree that one of the difficulties in the past has been the vast number of girl teachers who have qualified and then left the profession, thus leaving a great gap at the bottom of the scale?

[column 1653]

Mrs. Thatcher

I agree that pay structure is most important, and we hope that those young women who leave teaching will come back into the profession later.

Mr. Armstrong

Does the Secretary of State agree that it is not a crime for a lady to train as a teacher or to accept university training, to do a little time in school, then to get married and have children and afterwards to come back into the teaching profession? Will not the new structure proposed by the authorities penalise women and also divide the profession, in view of the distinction between primary and secondary schools which we on this side of the House have for so long been trying to end? Since the right hon. Lady has a direct responsibility on the negotiating body, will she try to do something about this situation?

Mrs. Thatcher

No one is suggesting that what the hon. Gentleman said was alleged to be a crime is in fact a crime. Certainly my hon. Friend did not suggest it. It is something that usually happens in the normal course of events. We hope that these young women will come back into teaching. On the second part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question, it seems that the teaching profession is divided on the matter of structure, but I do not necessarily accept that the structure itself is divisive. Indeed, it gives far more opportunities to those teaching in primary schools to become heads and deputy heads than applies to those teaching in secondary schools.

National Youth Orchestra and National Youth Brass Band

6. Mr. William Price

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how much financial assistance the National Youth Orchestra has received from the Arts Council during the past five years; and what was the figure for the National Youth Brass Band.

Mr. van Straubenzee

Grants to individual organisations are a matter for the Arts Council.

Mr. Price

Will the Minister tell me why the National Youth Orchestra, quite rightly, receives a large sum of money each year whereas the National Youth Brass Band has consistently been refused assistance? Is he aware of the feel[column 1654]ing in the musical world that if one is a middle-class harpist all is well but a working-class bugler does not get a look in?

Mr. van Straubenzee

If it be the fact, which I do not accept, that a working-class bugler is not given assistance, the fault lies at the door of the Arts Council presided over by a member of the Labour Party.

Mr. Hugh Jenkins

Is not the Arts Council ready to receive an application from any source and would not an application supported, for example, by the local authority in Rugby be well received by the Arts Council?

Mr. Price

Not by the Tories.

Mr. van Straubenzee

I must leave this internal battle to be settled between the two hon. Gentlemen opposite. When there is an Arts Council structure, it does not make sense for Ministers of any party personally to allocate funds. I am grateful for the support of the hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Hugh Jenkins).

Mr. Lane

I do not wish to do the brass band down, but has not the National Youth Orchestra's grant remained unchanged for at least five years and will my hon. Friend take every opportunity of encouraging this orchestra as a nursery for the great musicians of the future?

Mr. van Straubenzee

I certainly pay a warm tribute to the work of the orchestra, but the money allocated to it must be an Arts Council matter.

Theatrical Productions (Subsidies)

7. Mr. Evelyn King

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will make a statement on the progress of consultations with the Arts Council with a view to the withholding of subsidies from public funds for theatrical productions which are blasphemous or obscene.

Mr. van Straubenzee

Consultations between my noble Friend and the Arts Council are still proceeding.

Mr. King

Is the Minister aware that the mild suggestions made by one of his colleagues were described by Mr. Kenneth Tynan as “cheeky” and were disapproved of by Mr. Jonathan Miller? [column 1655]Do noises of this sort from so august a quarter still strike terror in the Ministerial heart, or is the literary and dramatic climate changing?

Mr. van Straubenzee

It would take considerably more than that to strike terror in any Ministerial heart. I am happy to say that my answer is accurate and that the matter is still in discussion with the Arts Council.

Mr. Faulds

Does the hon. Gentleman not agree that it would be entirely unacceptable to interfere with the artistic and creative processes sponsored by the Arts Council simply because certain elderly hon. Members suffer either from religious bigotry or sexual guilt?

Mr. van Straubenzee

I do not propose to attempt identification. There has never been the smallest disposition on the part of my noble Friend to be the person who makes these decisions, but there is widespread support for his view that it is not appropriate for public money to be made available for purposes which are gravely offensive to a wide range of people.

Schoolchildren (Nutrition)

8. Miss Lestor

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will institute an inquiry into the nutritional and dietary circumstances of school-children.

Mrs. Thatcher

The Committee on Medical Aspects of Food Policy, through its Panel on the Nutrition of School Children, keeps this matter under review.

Miss Lestor

Is the right hon. Lady not aware that there is great concern on this side of the House and among many of her hon. Friends, as well as among doctors outside the House, at the complete rejection by her hon. Friend of the Queen Elizabeth College survey on nutrition among schoolchildren? Is it not time the Government themselves undertook a survey to examine the effects of the increases in school meal charges and the withdrawal of school milk?

Mrs. Thatcher

It would help to adjudge that survey if it were published. It has never been published.

Miss Lestor

That is not the point. The point is that there was an interim [column 1656]report which was published and available. It was that which was rejected by her hon. Friend on the Prayer on school meals and milk.

Mrs. Thatcher

I fail to see why a survey which has been completed should not be published if I am asked to adjudge upon it.

Mr. Lane

Is it not a fact that during the last six years, in spite of increases in school meal charges, an appreciably higher proportion of children are receiving school meals than was the case in 1964?

Mrs. Thatcher

Certainly more are receiving school meals free. I am glad to announce that all children in families which are in receipt of family incomes supplement will be entitled to free school meals without separate assessment. Amending legislation will be laid before Parliament in due course.

Mr. Frank Allaun

Does the right hon. Lady accept that many children are going to school without having had anything to eat since five o'clock the previous evening? If the number of children receiving school dinners were to go down by, let us say, half a million, would she reconsider the question of charges and also the withdrawal of free school milk?

Mrs. Thatcher

I am satisfied that the arrangements in respect of free school meals are operating as well as we can possibly get them to operate, and there will be another campaign to this end. All those who receive supplementary benefits are automatically entitled to free school meals and those in receipt of family incomes supplement will be automatically entitled to them. The hon. Gentleman's opening remark is a matter for the welfare services rather than for the school meals service.

School Meals

11. Mr. Hugh Jenkins

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what proportion of children takes school meals in the Inner London Education Authority area; what percentage is provided free; and what advice she has tended to local education authorities so as to avoid children knowing who pays and who does not.

[column 1657]

Mrs. Thatcher

On a day in the autumn, 1970, 65.6 per cent. of the pupils present at maintained schools in the Inner London Education authority area took the school meal and 14.9 per cent. of those present received it free of charge. Paragraph 5 of Circular 3/71 reminded authorities again that the collection of the charge for school meals and the dining arrangements should be so organised that those who receive free meals cannot be identified by other pupils.

Mr. Jenkins

Does the right hon. Lady know how this matter is working out in practice? Will she institute inquiries to discover whether in fact this is being done without embarrassment to children and their parents? If she looks into the matter, she may find that the circular is not universally operated in a manner that is free from objection.

Mrs. Thatcher

We make inquiries into every case that is reported to us. Our information is that there will be very few such cases, but those which come to us are followed up because we are anxious that the children should not be identified.

Mr. Faulds

Is the Secretary of State aware that there is a young boy of 11 in my constituency who is illegitimate and who now refuses to go to school because he has to put up his hand to get a free dinner? He knows why and so do the other children. Has the right hon. Lady any comprehension of how much we on this side of the House despise and loathe a Government whose policies and priorities lead to that sort of human suffering?

Mrs. Thatcher

I am sure that both the previous. Government and myself would condemn any such arrangement. I assume that the hon. Gentleman, the moment he heard of this matter, approached the headmaster, the chief education officer and the chairman of the education committee to deal with it.

Mr. Faulds

I shall be doing so. I received the letter only yesterday.

Teacher Training Colleges (Failure Rate)

12. Mr. Scott-Hopkins

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many students at teacher training colleges have failed to qualify in 1970; [column 1658]and how many, having qualified, have taken employment outside the teaching profession.

Mr. van Straubenzee

Information relating to 1970 is not yet available. In 1969, 1,119 students completing their training failed the final examination. Of the 28,213 non-graduate students successfully completing training in that year, about 24,000 had entered maintained primary and secondary schools by February, 1970. More than half of the remainder were continuing their studies.

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

Would my hon. Friend not agree that this figure of dropout shows exactly the same kind of proportion as has happened in regard to students in universities? Does not some investigation need to be made to see that State money is not wasted in giving training to people who at the end of the day do not follow it up?

Mr. van Straubenzee

These are not comparable figures. I am being asked about those who have completed their training, and I am pointing to the fact that a very small percentage is unaccounted for. It is reasonable on previous figures to suppose that a considerable number of those people, after a break, go into the profession for which they are trained.

Art Galleries and Museums (Admission Charges)

14. Mr. Hardy

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is the number of individuals who have protested against, or criticised, the proposals to establish admission charges at art galleries and museums; whether this be by letter or by signature only; and what replies she has sent.

Mr. van Straubenzee

Up to Monday, 22nd March, 358 letters protesting against, or criticising, the introduction of admission charges for museums and galleries had been received in the Department of Education and Science. These included 63 letters on behalf of various organisations and 22 petitions bearing 1,842 signatures. individual replies have been, or are being, sent to all letters.

Mr. Hardy

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that reply, but would he not agree that, in view of the opposition which has arisen to these charges and the [column 1659]difficulties which such a scheme inevitably will cause, this matter should be reconsidered? Does he not agree that some of the arguments advanced in support of the imposition of admission charges could also be used to justify charges for such events as the Trooping of the Colour, the Changing of the Guard and the State Opening of Parliament?

Mr. van Straubenzee

We have on other occasions debated the merits of this suggestion. When I saw the answer to this Question, I thought how remarkable it was that only 1,800 signatures had been obtained on this subject, when one considers that some 12 million people each year visit the institutions concerned.

Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg

Does my hon. Friend not agree that the mere fact that several thousand people have paid admission charges to see the costumes used in the B.B.C. television series on Henry VIII proves that his right hon. Friend is on the right lines with this proposal?

Mr. van Straubenzee

Yes, there are widespread inconsistencies, and indeed on some occasions charges are levied within some of the institutions affected.

Mr. Faulds

Will the hon. Gentleman not be honest and admit that he realises as well as the rest of us that the whole of the artistic and cultural establishment of this country is opposed to these charges? Will he not, even now, reconsider the possibility of revoking this ridiculous proposal?

Mr. van Straubenzee

I certainly do not accept the hon. Gentleman as the spokesman for all the cultural interests he mentions.

Mr. Faulds

More so than you.

Mr. van Straubenzee

It certainly can be said that there is widespread support for the proposals which have been made.

Saddleworth Secondary School, West Riding

15. Mr. David Clark

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what priority was accorded to Saddleworth Secondary School at Uppermill by the West Riding County Council in the submission of their secondary school major building programme for 1971–72; and if she will include this in her programme.

[column 1660]

Mrs. Thatcher

The projects submitted by the West Riding Local Education Authority for the 1971–72 Preliminary List, from which the 1973–74 Starts Programme will be drawn, were not arranged in order of priority. No decisions have yet been taken on this programme.

Mr. Clark

I thank the Secretary of State for that reply. When she has taken a final decision, will she bear in mind that there is considerable—in fact, overwhelming—support in the Saddleworth area for a comprehensive school?

Mrs. Thatcher

I shall bear the hon. Gentleman's representations in mind. Indeed, we had an Adjournment debate on the subject earlier in the year.

Secondary School Building Programme

16. Mr. David Clark

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what consultations she has with local education authorities before approving her major secondary school building programme.

Mrs. Thatcher

I invite each local education authority to submit proposals in order of priority. My officers generally discuss these with the authority concerned before the programme is drawn up.

Mr. Clark

Will the Minister clarify this point? She invites local education authorities to submit a list of priorities, and obviously she has respect to those priorities. Has the West Riding not issued its list in order of priority?

Mrs. Thatcher

That emerged from the answer to the last Question. The West Riding has not submitted its list in order of priority. Usually the order emerges in the course of discussions between our officials and the local education authority.

School Building Programme, London

17. Mr. Hugh Jenkins

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what arrangements she is making to restore the cuts she has proposed in the Inner London Education Authority school building programme for 1971–72.

Mr. van Straubenzee

rose——

Mr. Jenkins

On a point of order. Before the Minister replies, may I point [column 1661]out that it is almost certain that the year 1971–72 in my Question ought to read “1972–73” .

Mr. van Straubenzee

This, of course, is of some importance because in respect of the year 1971–72 my right hon. Friend has made no such proposals. I must ask the hon. Member to get his figures right.

Mr. Jenkins

However it has come to read “1971–72” on the Order Paper, I do not wish to put the blame other than upon myself. However, I think it was obvious to the Minister that the Question must relate to 1972–73, because he well knows that he has just rejected and cut the I.L.E.A.'s request in this respect by three schools—two primary schools and the enlargement of a third—in South London. He further knows that these schools are essential and that his right hon. Friend has had interviews with the I.L.E.A. in which it pleaded with her to put these schools back. Therefore, the Minister should be in a position to answer the Question.

Mr. van Straubenzee

I am sorry to disappoint the hon. Gentleman, but he is wrong again. He is referring not to the school building programme for 1972–73, but to the minor works allocation, which is a very different matter.

Comprehensive Education

18. Mr. Dormand

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will state the different forms of comprehensive education now approved by her department; and whether she will list the number of each form in the Official Report.

Mrs. Thatcher

The four main patterns in operation are: all-through schools, 11–16 schools feeding sixth form colleges, various types of two-tier arrangements and middle school arrangements. With permission, I will circulate further information in the Official Report.

Mr. Dormand

Is the Secretary of State aware that many schools designated as comprehensive do not in fact fulfil the basic criterion of comprehensive education; that is, they do not admit the full ability range? Does the right hon. Lady agree that this makes nonsense of many of the plans for reorganisation which have been submitted to her? In view of the Government's lack of [column 1662]enthusiasm for comprehensive education, is she happy to have it that way?

Mrs. Thatcher

It is well known by all those who survived the last Parliament that comprehensive and non-selective education are two different things. Often to get comprehensive education one needs to select in order to get an all-ability range in each school. That is known as banding, and that was rejected by the last Government. Selection is not necessarily rejected by this Government.

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the middle school form of comprehensive education is an excellent way of doing it? Will she take steps to explain to areas such as Derbyshire, where there has been a great controversy in the Matlock area, the great advantages which can accrue to parents and children of adopting the middle school form?

Mrs. Thatcher

In some areas the middle school system works very well. Conditions vary from area to area in the buildings and staff which are available. It is difficult to make any overall judgment unless one knows the background of each area.

Miss Lestor

Does the right hon. Lady agree that the whole principle of comprehensive education is eroded when streaming within comprehensive schools takes place? Will she therefore issue a circular to this effect and advise people in comprehensive schools that they are destroying the whole principle when that exists?

Mrs. Thatcher

No, I will not. Arrangements within schools are matters for the heads of those schools.

Mr. Leslie Huckfield

What policy does the Secretary of State intend to adopt towards the direct-grant school in these various forms of comprehensive education which she has just listed?

Mrs. Thatcher

Direct-grant schools will continue as they are for the time being.

Following is the information:

The following Table shows the main different patterns of comprehensive organisation which have been approved in principle since 1965 and the number of authorities proposing each [column 1663]pattern. The plans of some county authorities in particular include more than one kind of organisation. The figures relate to England and Wales.

Teachers (Pay)

19. Mr. Lane

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what progress there has been in the teachers' salary negotiations; and whether she will make a statement.

20. Mr. Marten

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will make a statement on the teachers' pay claim.

39. Mr. Leadbitter

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what progress has been made on the teachers' pay negotiations; and if she will make a statement.

Mrs. Thatcher

The negotiations in the Burnham Committee reached deadlock on 5th March. The independent chairman ruled that there had been full opportunity for discussion and negotiation and that the matter should be referred to arbitration. He then asked my right hon. Friend R. Carrthe Secretary of State for Employment to convene an arbitral body. My right hon. Friend has written to each panel inviting nominations of suitable persons to serve.

Mr. Lane

Is there not wide public support for reasonable, but not excessive, salary increases coupled with improvements in structure? Will my right hon. Friend take any opportunity which may be open to her to persuade the teachers to accept arbitration as the best and quickest way of reaching a settlement?

Mrs. Thatcher

The arrangements for arbitration are in the hands of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment. The independent chairman has written to him asking him to convene an arbitral body to arbitrate on the differences between the teachers' panel and the management panel on pay structure and salary scales from 1st April, 1971.

[column 1664]

Mr. Marten

First, was not the settlement last year made on the understanding that there would be a restructuring settlement in subsequent agreements? Secondly, was it not the Remuneration of Teachers' Act, 1965, passed by the Labour Government, which set up arbitration under this scheme? Have the Opposition supported the present Government in their appeal for arbitration?

Mrs. Thatcher

The answer to the first part of my hon. Friend's supplementary is “Yes, Sir” and to the second part also, “Yes, Sir.” The arbitration arrangements were set up by the right hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Crosland) when he was Secretary of State for Education.

Mr. Raphael Tuck

Is the right hon. Lady aware that the great suspicion of the teachers towards arbitration is because they fear that there will not be an impartial chairman? Will she therefore ensure that if there is arbitration, the chairman is completely impartial?

Mrs. Thatcher

Under the arrangements made by the right hon. Member for Grimsby, my right hon. Friend has to consult both panels before an independent chairman is appointed.

Mr. Edwin Wainwright

Does the right hon. Lady realise that it is not just the global figure which is upsetting the teaching profession but the restructuring which has been mentioned? Will she say what consultation has taken place with the Burnham Committee and the N.U.T. and will she make a statement on the views expressed by the N.U.T., which have been entirely ignored by the Burnham Committee?

Mrs. Thatcher

Since the deadlock the N.U.T. has expressed no views to me, but I understand that it has seen officials at the Department of Employment.

Sir R. Cary

May I ask my right hon. Friend, in restructuring the pay of teachers, what benefit could accrue to those who teach in primary schools, whose need is most urgent at the present time?

Mrs. Thatcher

The one outstanding point which occurs immediately is a new [column 1665]increment. After the rest of the increments have reached their maximum, an extra one is given after three years of service which takes the bottom scale at its top level to a figure in excess of £2,000 a year.

Mr. Denis Howell

In view of yesterday's offer by the Ford management, following that of Vauxhall, why should the teachers be satisfied with their present offer? Having regard to the Budget and the situation in which management is now offering workers outside so much in advance of what the Secretary of State is offering to the teachers, will she reconsider the offer that has been made?

Mrs. Thatcher

If one is considering a pay award, one has to consider everything associated with it, including the regular annual increments, the holiday arrangements and the pension arrangements, which are protected from inflation in the case of teachers not by teachers' contributions but by money made up from taxpayers' contributions to the Treasury.

Works of Art (Gifts to the Nation)

21. Mr. Strauss

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether she proposes to introduce legislation to annul the provisions in wills making gifts to the nation of works of art now exhibited in galleries and museums conditional on their being made available to the public gratuitously.

Mr. van Straubenzee

No, Sir.

Mr. Strauss

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that Turner left his magnificent collection of pictures to the nation on the understanding that they should be freely accessible to the public, that many other gifts of work in our national collections were made on the same conditions, and that, whatever the legal position may be, it is surely a moral breach of trust to override the request contained in these generous bequèsts?

Mr. van Straubenzee

I have said in the course of previous exchanges that, in so far as enabling legislation was necessary, it would be introduced. But there is no intention of introducing legislation of the kind mentioned in the Question.

Mr. Faulds

Does the hon. Gentleman not understand that he is breaking faith with the past in that the donors of many [column 1666]magnificent gifts to our national collections expected stipulations in their wills to be observed and that he should now admit that he is pursuing a dishonourable course in this matter?

Mr. van Straubenzee

For reasons that we all regret, the hon. Gentleman has not been able to be with us for some time. If he had been able to listen to some of our exchanges, he would realise that the construction, for example, of the expression “freely available” is not necessarily that which is sometimes placed upon it.

Secondary Education (Selection Procedure)

22. Mr. Armstrong

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what percentage of children in maintained schools is subject to selection procedure for secondary education at 11-plus; and what proposals she has for abolishing such procedure.

Mrs. Thatcher

The Department collects statistics about the number of children in different types of school, but it has never collected statistics about children subject to selection procedure. The answer to the second part of the Question is, “None, Sir” .

Mr. Armstrong

Is the right hon. Lady aware that in many local authorities selection at the age of 11 is still being made, which is in direct contradiction to the statement in the Conservative Party manifesto at the last election that the age of 11 was much too early to make decisions about children's future? As it is true that a great number of children are still being selected or rejected at the age of 11 and are having to write themselves off far below their potential, will the right hon. Lady accept some responsibility as the Minister in getting ahead with abolishing this iniquitous procedure, instead of putting everything on to the local authorities?

Mrs. Thatcher

The age of 11 is too early to make a final decision about any child's future, and so is any school age. Whatever the age at which a child's potential appears, full provision must be made for drawing it out and giving the child the very best education possible.

Nursing Education (Accommodation)

23. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science [column 1667]if she will encourage the provision of nursery education accommodation as near as possible to the homes of families with young children, and, as a start, propose the conversion into a nursery classroom of one ground-floor flat with access to outdoor play space on estates of council multi-storey flats.

Mr. van Straubenzee

This kind of provision is eligible for consideration under the Urban Programme if it satisfies the requirements of the relevant regulations about health and safety.

Mr. Allaun

I very much appreciate that Answer. Does the hon. Gentleman realise that many blocks of flats have no playgrounds at all and that, even if there is one, often it is impossible for a mother to keep an eye on her young child perhaps 15 storeys down? As a result, many thousands of children are hemmed in almost permanently in their flats with serious effects on themselves and their mothers.

Mr. van Straubenzee

I am aware of problems of this kind, and I am aware of them especially in the area represented by the hon. Gentleman. However, the hon. Gentleman will probably agree that alterations of this kind are not always satisfactory to existing blocks and present great problems, but that they make a good deal of sense if they are incorporated at the design stage of new blocks.

Miss Lestor

When do the Government intend to uphold the commitment given to the National Commission for Nursery Education by the Conservative National Advisory Committee on Education that the Government would be withdrawing Circular 8/60 and increasing the money available under the urban aid programme for nursery schools?

Mr. van Straubenzee

Certainly it will not be made as a result of an announcement on a technical point dealing with high blocks of flats.