HC Deb 28 January 1954 vol 522 cc1936-8
4. Mr. Awbery

asked the Minister of Education if she has considered a report from the Science Masters' Association stating that 84 schools had to close part of their science departments, that 115 vacancies remained unfilled and that there was not a single applicant worth considering when recent advertisements appeared for 60 places; and what action she proposes to take to remedy this state of affairs.

Miss Horsbrugh

The report of the Science Masters' Association was taken into account by the National Advisory Council on the Training and Supply of Teachers when they were preparing their recent report on "Graduate Teachers of Mathematics and Science." Action on the latter is now proceeding, as I indicated in my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (Mr. Remnant) on 21st January.

Mr. Awbery

Is the Minister aware that if she placed a list of the salaries paid to scientists in industry alongside a list of the salaries paid by her Department she would have the shock of her life? Is she not aware that this is a salary question, and that to increase the number of science teachers we must substantially increase their salaries?

Miss Horsbrugh

The hon. Gentleman was mistaken in referring to salaries as being paid by my Department. The salaries are paid by the local authorities. The standards are laid down by the Burnham Committee, whose report I can either approve or reject. As I announced to the House last week, I have approved the present Report.

Mr. G. Thomas

Is the Minister aware that if she seeks to make the whole of the teaching profession more attractive by encouraging higher salaries such action will be welcomed by the teachers, but that we seek no further discrimination within the ranks of the profession?

Miss Horsbrugh

I am sure that teachers would welcome higher salaries. I sometimes wonder whether they would attract teachers in this House to return to teaching.

30 and 31. Mr. Malcolm MacPherson

asked the Minister of Education (1) in view of the statement by the Chairman, Sir Philip Morris, contained in the foreword to the Report of the National Advisory Council on the Training and Supply of Teachers, that the shortage of mathematicians and scientists in the schools cannot be made good by the Minister of Education and the local authorities alone, and that the council believe it should be considered as a national problem, what steps she is taking to deal with this matter as a national problem

(2) with regard to the recommendation of the National Advisory Council on the Training and Supply of Teachers that the problems involved in bringing about any increase which may be decided upon in the number of suitable men and women reading mathematics and science be discussed between the universities and the schools, what increase has been decided upon; and what approach she has made to the universities in the matter.

Miss Horsbrugh

I agree that this should be treated as a national problem and I shall bring my colleagues into consultation as the discussions referred to in the answer I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (Mr. Remnant) on 21st January proceed. In any approach to the universities I shall, naturally, keep in close touch with my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Mr. MacPherson

Does the right hon. Lady realise that the basic questions in issue here are those which are not really within the purview of her Ministry, namely, the distribution among the different national users of a very scarce national asset, scientists and mathematicians? Would it not be more appropriate, and in keeping with the Council's recommendations, that the problem should be taken out of the hands of one Department and put in the hands of, say, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who has far more oversight than the right hon. Lady has at the moment over the basic questions involved?

Miss Horsbrugh

There have been meetings already between the Federation of British Industries, the universities and the educational departments. That contact has been maintained, and there are to be further discussions. These interests have already got together to see how the difficulty can be resolved.