HC Deb 11 April 1946 vol 421 cc2063-4
1. Squadron-Leader Sir Gifford Fox

asked the Minister of Education the reasons for the delay in opening St. Peter's Training College, Peterborough; when it is anticipated that it will be opened; why the tutors were provisionally appointed on 8th December, 1944, for a period of not less than two years; when they were allocated; what official duties they have been doing since; and from what date will the beginning of the two years' appointment be reckoned.

The Minister of Education (Miss Ellen Wilkinson)

There has been no delay in opening this college. The main premises were in use by the American Red Cross until October, 1945, and the hostel which forms an integral part of the accommodation was in use for prisoners of war until 16th February, 1946. The college was opened as soon as the necessary adaptations could be made, namely, on the 19th March.

The tutors were provisionally selected in December, 1944, at a time when staffs were being built up on a shadow basis and it was not known when or where any particular staffs would actually be employed. All concerned clearly understood that this was the position and that provisional selection involved no commitment on either side. The teachers remained in their previous employment until they were appointed to the staff of the college in January, 1946, and from then until the opening of the college they were employed on essential preliminary duties. There is no question of staff being appointed for a period of two years and the last part of the question does not therefore arise.

Sir G. Fox

Why is it necessary to appoint teachers in December, 1944, when the college was not going to be opened until October, 1945?

Miss Wilkinson

As I have explained, they were appointed on a shadow basis and they remained in their own employment, getting their salaries where they were employed. [An HON. MEMBER: "Shadow salaries? "] No, not shadow salaries. It was a perfectly wise idea, because otherwise my predecessor would not have known where to get staff.

Mr. Tiffany

Is the Minister aware that I was in communication with her Department and with the Minister of Works on this matter at the end of last year and in January of this year, and that we received every consideration in the release of this college? I have a letter from the Chief Education Officer expressing deepest thanks for the way things turned out and we have managed very well without the assistance of the hon. and gallant Member for Henley (Sir G. Fox).