Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1972 Mar 9 Th
Margaret Thatcher

HC PQ [Education and Science]

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: House of Commons
Source: Hansard HC [832/1623-43]
Editorial comments: 1430-1515.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 7539
Themes: Education, Secondary education, Higher & further education, Public spending & borrowing, Race, immigration, nationality, Science & technology, Social security & welfare, Transport
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Portsmouth (Official Visit)

1. Mr. Judd

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what plans she has made to pay an official visit to the city of Portsmouth.

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

I have no plans to do so.

Mr. Judd

Is the right hon. Lady aware that the citizens of Portsmouth will be disappointed by that reply? Does she appreciate that when she is able to make plans and visit Portsmouth she will find that there are two urgent problems requiring her attention? Is she aware that the first problem is the difficulty for a city such as Portsmouth to finance its present educational programme, let alone improve it, and does she realise the burden that this places on the ratepayers as compared with other cities of roughly the same size, such as neighbouring Southampton? Is she aware that the [column 1624]second problem is the severe crisis in the shortage of residential and work accommodation in the polytechnic which is developing rapidly, and the stress which this is placing upon the city, which is short of accommodation for its own purposes?

Mrs. Thatcher

We are very much aware of the accommodation problem in polytechnics and universities. I will also bear in mind the hon. Gentleman's other point, which is jointly a question for myself and my right hon. Friend A. Barberthe Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Corsbie Hall School

3. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many handicapped children from English local education authorities remain at the Corsbie Hall School in Thornton, Fife.

Mrs. Thatcher

Four, Sir. I have pointed out to the local education authority concerned that I do not consider that this school is at present suitable for the placement of handicapped pupils, and am in discussion with the authority about the future education of these children.

Mr. Hamilton

Does the right hon. Lady recognise that her information is out of date? Is she aware that I visited this school as recently as last Sunday and found that there were four children from Oldham, at least two from South Shields, and at least one from Cheshire? Can she say why these children should have to go from education authorities throughout England to a private fee-paying school in Scotland, which is charging £800 per year for each student? Is it because facilities in England and Wales are non-existent? If that is the case, will the right hon. Lady give an assurance that she will compel local education authorities to face their responsibilities?

Mrs. Thatcher

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for the information contained in the first part of his supplementary question. I will look into what he has said. The special education building programme is increasing, but for reasons of which he will be aware the demand tends to rise even faster than does the building programme. I would like to assure him that under both the [column 1625]last Government and under this Government there has been an increasing stress on the education building programme.

Mr. Edward Short

Does not the right hon. Lady agree that the time has come to reconstitute the Central Advisory Council, set up under the 1944 Act, and to consider the whole question of provision for handicapped children, including the training of their teachers?

Mrs. Thatcher

No, Sir. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, we have an excellent advisory committee dealing with the education of handicapped children, which is continually coming forward with advice which is useful to my Department in considering the education of this group of children.

Secondary Schools

4. Mr. Montgomery

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will allow local authorities to include the replacement and improvement of secondary school buildings among their proposals under the urban programme.

Mrs. Thatcher

I think it right that most of the resources available to education under the urban programme should be devoted to nursery places. To allow expenditure on secondary schools under this programme would jeopardise that objective.

Mr. Montgomery

I agree with the priorities of my right hon. Friend, but would she not agree that there are exceptional cases in the secondary sector? When resources are more readily available, can she give them a certain amount of extra priority?

Mrs. Thatcher

I am well aware of the exceptional cases in the secondary sector. In the two years 1972–74, 15 secondary schools are to be rebuilt or improved. I am anxious that as soon as more resources become available we should do more to improve secondary education facilities.

Mr. Freeson

Is the right hon. Lady aware that if some secondary school replacement were provided under the urban programme it would be possible to make sites and, sometimes, buildings available for the special objective that she has stated, namely, the provision of [column 1626]more nursery places and similar facilities? I draw her attention to the Brondesbury and Kilburn secondary schools in my constituency, which are totally out of date and should be closed down as soon as possible to make available sites for other purposes.

Mrs. Thatcher

The cost of sites is not the only factor. The cost of a secondary school place vastly exceeds the cost of a nursery school place, and it is the nursery schools which should have priority in this programme.

25. Mr. Fox

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science to what extent the number of qualified mathematics and science teachers in maintained secondary schools falls short of needs.

Mr. van Straubenzee

A recent survey indicates that though the position is improving there is a shortage of 1,600 graduates whose main teaching subject would be mathematics, 500 for physics and a few hundred each for other sciences. The shortage of non-graduates is a good deal smaller.

Mr. Fox

From his reply the Under-Secretary is obviously aware, as I am, of the grave concern of many parents at this shortfall. What we seek is an improvement in the situation.

Mr. van Straubenzee

I hope that my hon. Friend will take comfort from the fact that over 3,000 graduates in mathematics and science are at present on post-graduate training courses. Last year the figure was about 2,200 so that shows an encouraging improvement.

Primary Schools

6. Mr. Skinner

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will make a statement on her intentions with regard to the Derbyshire Education Committee's list of priority replacement of pre-1903 primary schools.

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

I would refer the hon. Member to the answer given to his question on 2nd March.—[Vol. 832, c. 167.]

Mr. Skinner

Is the Minister aware that of the 27 replacements in Derbyshire [column 1627]two will be in the four Labour constituencies and 25 in the Tory constituencies? I do not wish to offend the delicate skins of hon. Members opposite, but is there not a party political smell about all this?

Mr. van Straubenzee

The details of the submissions made by Derbyshire are entirely a matter for Derbyshire. Application was made by Derbyshire for 15 primary replacements to start in 1974–75. My right hon. Friend has not only indicated that she hopes to include all those; she has even invited the county to make one or two further submissions for the list. It is only because of the hon. Gentleman's helpful question that I am able to bring out these facts.

Mr. Rost

I have no doubt that my hon. Friend has his priorities right in the renewal of primary education in Derbyshire, but will he ask his right hon. Friend when she visits Derby next week to look at the Barrow-on-Trent primary school, which I understand was built in 1842 and is beginning to look like it?

Mr. van Straubenzee

I am only too happy to ask my right hon. Friend almost anything. I am sure that when she visits the local education authorities that is the sort of matter which will be put to her.

14. Mr. Marks

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many children below the statutory school starting age were in nursery schools at the last available date, and how many were in nursery or other classes in primary schools.

Mr. van Straubenzee

In January, 1971, the numbers in England and Wales were 36,000 and 282,000.

Mr. Marks

I appreciate the almost 50 per cent. increase over the last published figures in 1969 and I accept that the Labour Government's programme took considerable steps in this regard. However, would the right hon. Lady not agree that it is time to rescind Circular 8/60 on nursery schools? Furthermore, does she intend to increase considerably provision for the rising-fives in the near future?

Mr. van Straubenzee

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for acknowledging the increase but I am not sure that I am with him on his mathematics. However, [column 1628]we can talk about that another time. I have no announcement to make in advance of the published announcements under the urban programme.

Miss Lestor

Can the hon. Gentleman not be more explicit about the rising-fives in primary schools? If it is part of the Government's policy to increase the facilities for the rising-fives in primary schools, accompanied by or even distinct from nursery education, does he not agree that the same regulations should apply to the under-fives in primary schools as apply to children in nursery schools, where staffing and facilities are much more generous?

Mr. van Straubenzee

That supplementary question goes rather wider than the original Question. Perhaps the hon. Lady will table a question on that aspect. The figures that I have given include 153,000 children who are rising five.

Minor Works School Programme


7. Mr. Thomas Cox

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is the financial reduction in money terms in the Inner London Education Authority minor works programme, for primary and junior schools, for the coming financial year.

Mr. van Straubenzee

I would refer the hon. Member to the answer given to his Question on 10th February.—[Vol. 830, c. 1531.]

Mr. Cox

With great respect, when I last asked the Question I received no answer, because no figures were given by the hon. Gentleman. He must be aware of the figures relating to the cuts. Does he not agree that the cuts will present serious problems to many schools in the I.L.E.A. area, not only for the coming financial year but for a long time afterwards? Will he agree to meet elected representatives of I.L.E.A. to discuss this matter with them?

Mr. van Straubenzee

No specific figures were given to the hon. Gentleman last time because he asked a Question to which no specific answer could be given in terms of figures, the decision being that of the I.L.E.A. I confirmed last time, and I confirm now, that there has been a reduction. A minor works allocation [column 1629]of £1 million in 1972–73 is a generous share of the available resources for an area with a declining primary school population.

Mr. Cox

And increasing problems.

Mr. Grylls

Will my hon. Friend confirm that the Inner London Education Authority will benefit perhaps more than all other parts of the country from the modernisation and replacement programme for primary schools started by my right hon. Friend?

Mr. van Straubenzee

In two programmes 31 primary school replacement projects have been included, at a total cost of almost £4 million.

Mr. Edward Short

Is it not a great discourtesy to the House for the hon. Gentleman to give the answer that he has just given? The Question asked for figures. The hon. Gentleman referred my hon. Friend to a previous question and said that no figures were given in the previous answer. Is that not a discourtesy to the House?

Mr. Speaker

That is not a point of order.

Teacher Exchange

8. Mr. Duffy

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will revise upwards the new scheme for expanded teacher exchange between the United Kingdom, France and Germany, as announced in an Administrative Memorandum by her Department to start in 1972–73.

Mr. van Straubenzee

My right hon. Friend will be keeping the scheme under close review, but it already represents a considerable improvement on existing arrangements, both in numbers of exchanges and financial assistance to teachers, and it would be premature to consider revising it generally at this early stage.

Mr. Duffy

Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that it must represent more than an improvement on existing arrangements if his right hon. and hon. Friends are in earnest about entry into Europe? Is he aware that the target figure for the 1970s could be taken up by a single region such as the Yorkshire/Humberside region, and that the target figure for the [column 1630]first year—1972–73—is equal only to the needs of a single city the size of Sheffield?

Mr. van Straubenzee

I do not want the hon. Gentleman to think that I am complacent about the programme, but he is being a little less than generous. The present rate of exchanges is probably in the range of about 20, and in the first year it will rise to a total, between France and Germany, of about 200. As he does, I very much hope that subsequent years will see a substantial improvement.

Mr. John E. B. Hill

Does my hon. Friend expect to see a steadily rising trend? Can he assure us that financial difficulties will not stand in the way?

Mr. van Straubenzee

It does not rest entirely with this country, but I express the strong hope that we shall see a rising trend. There has been a difficulty about the rate of grant for teachers going to Germany, and it has been possible to increase the rate per week to £8.55 as against the £5.45 which was previously announced.

Maintained Schools

(Pupil-Teacher Ratio)

9. Mr. Lane

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is her latest estimate of the trend in the pupil-teacher ratio in maintained schools between now and 1975.

Mrs. Thatcher

I estimate that for England and Wales the present figure of 22.1 will improve in successive years to 21.4, 21.3, and 20.7.

Mr. Lane

Without being complacent, is it not clear from that reply that in terms of human as well as material resources the Government are making steady improvements in this most crucial area of our educational system?

Mrs. Thatcher

Yes, Sir, and I am very pleased that it is so. As the right hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central (Mr. Edward Short) pointed out, he should take some share of the credit, and I hope that he will be sufficiently generous to give my right hon. Friend the noble Lord, Lord Boyle, his excellent share of the credit.

Mr. Marks

Does the right hon. Lady appreciate that if the James Report recommendations are accepted many [column 1631]more teachers will be needed as tutor teachers to allow for the fact that first year teachers will work only 80 per cent. of the time and many teachers will be away on in-service training?

Mrs. Thatcher

Yes, I am well aware of that, but I think it a good thing that in-service training should steadily increase.

“Half Our Future” (Report)

10. Mr. Dormand

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether she will issue a statement showing the progress made on the recommendations of the Central Advisory Council's report, “Half Our Future” , and if she will take the initiative in convening a conference of all interested parties to discuss the statement.

Mrs. Thatcher

I do not think that a conference is needed. We have acted on the main recommendation that the school leaving age should be raised. Most of the others were addressed to local education authorities or schools and have already had a considerable effect.

Mr. Dormand

That is a disappointing reply. Does not the right hon. Lady agree that this is not only one of the most important reports of recent years but is the most neglected report? Is it not now in imminent danger of being buried and forgotten? Is she aware that Lord Boyle—one of her predecessors—in welcoming the report emphasised that what was needed above all was a change of heart in the community as a whole. What progress has been made in that important aspect, and what action does the right hon. Lady propose to take?

Mrs. Thatcher

I do not agree with a great deal of what the hon. Gentleman says. We have taken action, and that action was to raise the school leaving age. That was the main recommendation of the report. Whatever any Minister may do, he or she cannot single-handedly bring about a change of heart in the community as a whole, although I would be the first to realise that that is most desirable.

Mr. Spearing

If the right hon. Lady will not convene a conference on this matter, will she undertake to inquire into the attainment of those pupils who leave school before taking public examinations [column 1632]and conduct a survey of their motivation at the time they leave school?

Mrs. Thatcher

No, Sir—not at the moment. As the hon. Gentleman knows, we have records of examination results of those who leave school at 16, but not of those who leave at 15. I cannot at the moment agree to an inquiry of the kind that he suggests.

School Building Programmes

11. Mr. John E. B. Hill

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what guidance she is giving to existing local education authorities to ensure that the planning and execution of school building programmes continues smoothly through the reorganisation of local government.

Mrs. Thatcher

I share my hon. Friend's concern that educational building programmes should continue smoothly through the reorganisation period. This is essentially a matter for co-operation between the existing authorities and their successors, but my Department is available for discussions on the problems involved and will give any help it can.

Mr. Hill

I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. What arrangements are likely to be made for apportioning the existing forward building programme, especially where the boundaries of the new local education authorities may cut across existing boundaries and where the question of division may arise? In the meantime, are there any particular points to which local authorities and local education committees should have regard?

Mrs. Thatcher

Proposals for building programmes are made by the existing authorities, and any approvals given in respect of a particular school would carry over to the new authorities.

Mr. Edward Short

Is the right hon. Lady aware of the acute problems in the West Riding of Yorkshire, which is being completely fragmented by the Government's proposals? Is she further aware that, understandably, a number of key staff have already obtained new positions elsewhere and that if this trend continues the building programme in the West Riding may come to a complete halt?

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Mrs. Thatcher

I have had a number of letters about the position of the West Riding, not all of which agree with each other. Indeed, some of the county boroughs in the West Riding disagree with some of the contentions made by West Riding. I feel that we have been generous to the West Riding in our building programme as the right hon. Gentleman has admitted, bearing in mind the considerable problems in the area. I am anxious that these building programmes should be carried out.

Comprehensive Education

12. Mr. Ashley

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science on how many occasions she has refused permission for a school to become part of a comprehensive scheme proposed by local education authorities; how many letters of protest she has received after any such refusals; and what replies she has sent.

Mrs. Thatcher

I have rejected under Section 13(4) of the Education Act, 1944, as amended, statutory proposals relating to 21 schools, where the proposals were to implement some part of a scheme of secondary reorganisation. In reply to a total of 72 letters opposing these decisions, I have explained the main educational considerations on which they were based.

Mr. Ashley

Is the right hon. Lady aware that by rejecting part of the scheme she could cause chaos to the whole of it and effectively damage the overall comprehensive scheme? When making decisions does she take this significant fact into account, or does she disregard it?

Mrs. Thatcher

I carry out my statutory duty, which is to consider each scheme on its merits. That is the duty contained in Section 13 and I must discharge it.

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

Will my right hon. Friend continue to refuse those applications where the two parts of the proposed schools are a long way apart, particularly in areas such as Derbyshire, where the result may be extremely inefficient and bad for both pupils and teachers?

Mrs. Thatcher

Schools on sites which are a good distance apart from each other face considerable difficulties. We have [column 1634]taken this factor into account when deciding whether to give or to withhold permission.

Miss Lestor

Can the Secretary of State explain how she squares that reply with what was said in “A Better Tomorrow” under the heading “Better Education” :

“In secondary education, a number of different patterns have developed over the years, including many types of comprehensive school. We will maintain the existing rights of local authorities to decide what is best for their area.”

Mrs. Thatcher

Many different patterns have developed. They come to me for approval. I have maintained existing local authority rights, and I discharge my statutory duty under Section 13 of the Education Act 1944, as amended. I undertake to maintain the local education authorities' existing rights.

13. Mr. Molloy

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what further plans are envisaged to help local education authorities in developing their programmes towards comprehensive education.

Mrs. Thatcher

Secondary school projects to the value of nearly £200 million are expected to start in the next two years. These have been authorised to meet basic need for new school places, but they will also contribute to the development of comprehensive schools in those areas where local education authorities are proceeding with plans for the reorganisation of secondary education.

Mr. Molloy

There appears to be a ray of hope in what the right hon. Lady says, but is she aware that in the past some local authorities, particularly Conservative-controlled ones, have argued that the only real answer is to have purpose-built comprehensive schools? This was not possible under the Labour Administration in one fell swoop, and it may not be possible under this Administration. However, would she be prepared to consider looking into cases where a scheme could be spoiled unless it received a little help from her Department—for example, would she examine the situation with which Ealing is now struggling?

Mrs. Thatcher

The main programmes which exist in secondary education are [column 1635]the basic needs programme and the raising of the school leaving age programme. With so many improvement projects still queueing up in secondary education, I cannot undertake to give any special money for comprehensive reorganisation beyond that allocated by those two programmes.

Mr. Madel

On the question of school places and reorganisation, will the Secretary of State pay special attention to those education authorities which face an above-average rise in school population, such as those in Bedfordshire?

Mrs. Thatcher

An above-average rise in school population should be taken into account in the basic needs programme, which is aimed at meeting that kind of situation.

Mr. Edward Short

How does the right hon. Lady square the recent decision in the Kidderminster scheme with the last sentence in a speech made in this House on 8th July, 1970, when we were discussing Circular 10/70, when the right hon. Lady said:

“The main purpose of this circular is to honour an election pledge to reject compulsion on democratically elected local authorities.” —[Official Report, 8th July, 1970; Vol. 803, c. 688.]

Mrs. Thatcher

The decision in the Kidderminster scheme was widely welcomed locally. It was on an application by the local authority to change the character of the school under Section 13. I discharged my statutory duties under Section 13, and I note that it is the right hon. Gentleman who does not wish me to discharge my legal duties.

Immigrant Children

15. Miss Lestor

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what further consideration is being given to her proposals that a change should be made in the classification of immigrant children to mean all children who had one parent born outside the United Kingdom; and if she will make a statement.

Mrs. Thatcher

I welcome the recommendations of the Select Committee on Race Relations and Immigration that there should be further discussion on this subject. Officers of the Department are meeting representatives of the local authority and teacher associations and of the [column 1636]Community Relations Commission on 27th March for this purpose.

Miss Lestor

Will the right hon. Lady answer the Question and say whether any further consideration is being given to the suggestion that immigrant children should be classified as meaning all children with one parent born outside the United Kingdom? Further, when looking at this whole question, will she consider whether the time has not come to stop talking in terms of immigrant children and start talking more in terms of children with particular problems in education, and to seek to get away from dividing our children into immigrants and non-immigrants?

Mrs. Thatcher

That method of collecting statistics arises out of the 1969 recommendation of the Select Committee. Two different methods were put to the local authority associations and other interested bodies. Neither was acceptable to all of them, and therefore we are meeting together on 27th March to reconsider the whole problem.

Mr. Kaufman

Is the right hon. Lady aware that the manner of collecting statistics on immigrant children has caused a great deal of bitter offence to a family in my constituency—one of whose parents comes from a country in Europe—who feel that the method by which their child has been singled out will damage its relationship with its school friends? Will the right hon. Lady ensure in future that the minimum amount of information is collected, and that it is collected with the utmost delicacy?

Mrs. Thatcher

Naturally, in the collection of statistics one is anxious to give no offence either to parents or to children. We are aware that the basis upon which these statistics are collected at the moment is not the best one. But whatever is substituted in its place must be workable administratively and humanely.

Nursery Education

16 and 35. Mr. David Clark

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science (1) if she is satisfied with the numbers of children receiving nursery education in the Upper Agbrigg Education Division of the West Riding, and if she will make a statement; [column 1637]

(2) if she is satisfied with the provision of nursery education in the Colne Valley Urban District of the Upper Agbrigg Education Division of the West Riding; and if she will make a statement.

Mr. van Straubenzee

Information about parts of the West Riding is not collected by the Department. In the West Riding as a whole the number of pupils under five, excluding rising-5's, rose from 4,400 to 6,400 during 1970, and over 400 additional places in nursery classes have been approved there under the urban programme in the last year.

Mr. Clark

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that reply, but it is extremely disappointing. Is he aware that, if he is satisfied with it the people in the area are not? Is there any chance of increasing the number of nursery school places in the West Riding?

Mr. van Straubenzee

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will do me the kindness of reflecting on the figures when he has had a chance to see them in writing. I think that they show an agreeable increase. If he asks me whether I am satisfied, the answer, of course, is “No” .

19. Mrs. Renée Short

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what proposals she now has for the further expansion of nursery education for the three- to five-year-olds, either under the urban aid programme or otherwise; and if she will make a statement.

Mr. van Straubenzee

Nearly 18,000 additional nursery places in England have been approved under the urban programme. Local authorities will be asked shortly to submit further proposals.

Mrs. Short

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that reply, but does not he think that the time has come to make considerable increases in the number of nursery places being provided? Should not he give local authorities freedom to do this themselves, if they have the available classroom space and teachers, by withdrawing Circular 8/60? Cannot he bring his influence to bear on his right hon. Friend, who is being very coy with me? I have been trying for the last six weeks or so to persuade her to receive a deputation from the Nursery Schools [column 1638]Association, and she refuses all the time. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will use his good offices to persuade the right hon. Lady to receive us.

Mr. van Straubenzee

May I make a suggestion to the hon. Lady—[Hon. Members: “Shame!” ] We are likely to be working late in the House, and I shall be available constantly.

Mrs. Knight

Even at this late stage, will not my hon. Friend reconsider the proposal to extend the school leaving age at the other end of the school period by putting it on to the beginning of the period?

Mr. van Straubenzee

I understand very well how strongly my hon. Friend feels on the subject of nursery school places, but at this late stage, certainly, there can be no question of going back on the decision to raise the statutory school leaving age.

Education Act, 1944

17. Mr. R. C. Mitchell

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether she is satisfied with the working of the Education Act, 1944, in the light of modern educational developments and needs; and if she will make a statement.

Mrs. Thatcher

In my view the broad structure of the 1944 Act continues to be relevant to modern conditions, but there is a need to consolidate all the Education Acts now on the Statute Book and to amend some of their detailed provisions.

Mr. Mitchell

Is the right hon. Lady aware that it is now 28 years since we had a major Education Act? The 1944 Act was based on a tripartite system of education which no longer applies, and it was passed when the concept of the middle school had not even been heard of. Does not she think that it is time we had a new major Act?

Mrs. Thatcher

The middle school was dealt with in a separate Act for that specific purpose. The tripartite system is not a function of the 1944 Act, but an administrative arrangement separate from it. In spite of disagreeing with the hon. Gentleman's reasons, I am still hoping to amend the 1944 Act and successive Acts when we have legislative time.

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Mr. Pardoe

If the right hon. Lady is satisfied with the 1944 Act, presumably she intends to implement the recommendation about country colleges. Will she say what her policy is towards introducing compulsory part-time education for everyone up to the age of 18?

Mrs. Thatcher

I said that I was not wholly satisfied with the 1944 Act and that I would consolidate and amend it as soon as I had legislative time to do so.

Foreign Language Teachers

18. Miss Fookes

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she is satisfied with the supply of foreign language teachers in anticipation of Great Britain's entry to the European Economic Community; and if she will make a statement.

Mr. van Straubenzee

No, Sir. The schools need many more teachers of French. My right hon. Friend has encouraged area training organisations to arrange for more teacher training places to be available for gradutes in French. In addition, there are initial courses in French for non-graduate teachers and the special programme of intensive in-service courses is continuing to expand.

Miss Fookes

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply, but may I point out to him that there are other languages than French, and that the Englishman abroad does not have a very good reputation for speaking any other language than English?

Mr. van Straubenzee

I accept that there are other languages than French, but that is the language that we teach most in our schools, and it is in that language that the greatest gaps occur at present.

Mr. Moyle

Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that if this country were ever to join the Common Market English would become the major working language by virtue of its strong position? Therefore, should not we be considering how we can increase the supply of English teachers in order to spread the English language to the Common Market?

Mr. van Straubenzee

In fact, we are doing precisely that. But I hope that whatever the future holds we shall be [column 1640]able to gain much from the culture, literature and music of the French people.

School Transport (Goole)

20. Dr. Marshall

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether she will use her power under Section 55(1) of the Education Act, 1944, to direct the West Riding Education Authority to provide free transport to school for secondary schoolchildren who live in Old Goole.

Mrs. Thatcher

No, Sir. I would not feel justified in giving a direction to the authority in this matter, which is essentially one for local decision.

Dr. Marshall

In view of the right hon. Lady's Written Answer of 7th March to the hon. Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. Scott-Hopkins), will the proposed working party look especially at the case of Old Goole, where the only available route to school is by a congested and dangerous classified road which runs for six-tenths of a mile across the dock estate?

Mrs. Thatcher

The conditions present in Old Goole are the kinds of conditions that the working party will take into account in considering the provision of transport to school.

Mr. Fry

When considering the provision of free transport will my right hon. Friend bear in mind the many areas where public transport is almost non existent, and where the cost of sending children to school is now very high?

Mrs. Thatcher

It is right that the working party should look not only at specific provisions and difficulties but also at the statutory provisions relating to transport to school. I hope that all of these will be properly considered.

Mr. Edward Short

May I, for once, congratulate the right hon. Lady on accepting the proposal from this side of the House, on the last occasion on which the right hon. Lady answered Questions, to set up a working party on school transport?

Mrs. Thatcher

May I also congratulate some of my hon. Friends, who have similar views and have very much welcomed this working party? Indeed many of them have proposed it for quite a long time.

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West Riding County Council (Grant)

21. Mr. Edwin Wainwright

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what was the amount of money granted to the West Riding Country Council for educational purposes during each of the past three years; and what is the figure for the current year.

Mr. van Straubenzee

Local authority expenditure on education is met from income by way of rates and the rate support grant paid by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment. Rate support grant is not apportioned to specific services.

Mr. Wainwright

Will the Under-Secretary tell me whether account has been taken of the deficiencies that exist at present in the Mexborough and District and Staincross divisional education committees for primary and nursery school education, what is to happen to the dining facilities for the Swinton Fitzwillian school, and what savings have taken place by taking away free school milk for schoolchildren?

Mr. van Straubenzee

These are pretty detailed questions, away from the main Question. Most of them are properly directed to the local education authorities concerned. The rate support grant, around which the Question centres, is not apportioned to specific services. That is why, in all good faith, I cannot give a detailed answer.

Mr. Marks

Has the Minister had his attention called to any local authorities which may not be spending as much on education as the rate support grant anticipated they would?

Mr. van Straubenzee

If the hon. Gentleman has a specific matter in mind, perhaps he will write to me or to my right hon. Friend. In general terms, these are matters within the discretion of local education authorities.

Schools (Lighting Standards)

22. Mr. Pardoe

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will conduct a survey to ascertain the extent to which lighting in schools measures up to her recommended standards.

Mr. van Straubenzee

No. Sir.

[column 1642]

Mr. Pardoe

Does the hon. Gentleman accept that the standards of lighting in many schools all over the country are far below those recommended by the electrical fitting profession, by his Department and, indeed, those in shops, offices and factories under current legislation? Will he stress the responsibility of managers and governors to ensure that teachers and children have adequate conditions of work?

Mr. van Straubenzee

I am not sure that the evidence supports the hon. Gentleman's contention. He probably has in mind the 1971 survey by the Society of Local Government Mechanical and Electrical Engineers, which showed no evidence that, for example, new schools are being designed to lower standards than those laid down in the Standards of School Premises Regulations.

Mr. John Fraser

Will the hon. Gentleman undertake that where standards in a school fall short of those which are analogous to the standards laid down in the Offices, Shops and Railway Premises Act, the local authority will not be debarred from spending money to bring the school up to the standards laid down in that Act?

Mr. van Straubenzee

Assuming—as I think must follow from the hon. Gentleman's question—that these are matters within the discretion of the local authority, they are entirely matters for the local authority to decide in each case.

Government Research and Development (Green Paper)

23. Mr. Douglas

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will make a statement on the progress made with regard to consultation on the Green Paper Cmnd. No. 4814 of November, 1971.

Mrs. Thatcher

The Government aim to reach decisions in the early part of the summer and to publish a White Paper as soon as possible thereafter. Good progress is being made with consultations.

Mr. Douglas

I thank the right hon. Lady for that answer. May we have an assurance that the deliberations of the Select Committee on Science and Technology will be available for her perusal before publication of the White Paper? In the interim, has she any comments to [column 1643]make on the excellent debate which took place last week in the other place on the Green Paper?

Mrs. Thatcher

I give the hon. Gentleman the assurance that he seeks in the first part of his question. I am far too wise to make comments on debates in another place.

Mr. Moyle

Is the right hon. Lady aware that one of the key recommendations in the Rothschild Report was that there should be a gradual transfer of funds from research councils? Is she further aware that the Lord Privy Seal, in another place, has now said that the Government are prepared to forgo that in certain circumstances and that, in the circumstances, the Opposition would like a debate on the Rothschild and Dainton Reports before there is any question of putting those recommendations into effect?

Mrs. Thatcher

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will adjudge whether he would like a debate before or after publication of the White Paper and take it up through the usual channels.

School Milk

24. Mr. Deakins

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many children in the London Borough of Waltham Forest between seven and 11 years of age are getting free school milk on medical grounds.

Mrs. Thatcher

The latest information available to the Department relates to last October when the number was seven.

Mr. Deakins

Will the Secretary of State tell me whether that number is low because of lack of need—which I find difficult to believe in a place like Waltham Forest—or because there has not been sufficient time for the medical officer of health to examine the children to find out whether they would qualify?

Mrs. Thatcher

I should adjudge the latter.