HC Deb 19 April 1955 vol 540 cc16-7
28 and 29. Mr. Malcolm MacPherson

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) what reply he made to the letter sent to him on 8th May, 1954, by Sir Edward Appleton on the subject of deferment of National Service for intending specialist teachers of mathematics and science;

(2) to make a statement on the Report of the Appleton Committee.

Mr. J. Stuart

First, I would take this opportunity to express my warm appreciation of the work done by Sir Edward Appleton and the other members of the Committee. Their Report makes an exhaustive and illuminating examination of the problem of the supply of mathematics and science teachers in Scotland; and their recommendations, some of which raise important questions of policy, are receiving careful consideration.

I have been in consultation with my colleagues on the question of the deferment of specialist teachers from National Service, but I am not yet in a position to announce a decision on this matter. I have referred to the National Joint Council on Teachers' Salaries in Scotland the recommendations relating to salary. I have asked the two associations of local authorities, the Educational Institute of Scotland, and a number of other bodies who are normally consulted on matters of educational policy, as well as the Scottish Council (Development and Industry) and the Scottish Council of the Federation of British Industries to give me comments on the recommendations. The attention of the principals of the four Scottish universities has been drawn to the observations contained in Chapter VI.

The recommendations in the Report include a wide variety of proposals, some of which, if approved, could be put into force in the fairly near future, while others would require more time. My aim will be to reach decisions on the several recommendations as soon as possible.

Mr. MacPherson

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this Report is one of the most lucid and—within the terms of its remit—thorough examinations we have had of this problem? Does he agree that the solution, in view of the economic importance of the personnel involved, lies in a broader field than that of purely educational policy?

Mr. Stuart

I agree that it is of very great importance to the whole of industry, in addition to education. As I endeavoured to say, I am most grateful to Sir Edward Appleton and his Committee for their very able Report.

Miss Herbison

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that Sir Edward Appleton and his Committee thought the matter of deferment to be of such importance that they communicated with the Minister long before the Report could be ready, and that it is now almost a year since that communication was made? Surely, on such an important matter, the Government should have taken a decision one way or the other?

Mr. Stuart

The hon. Lady is quite correct; Sir Edward Appleton wrote to me on the question of deferment on 8th May, 1954. I replied on 17th May, but, as the hon. Lady knows from her experience of Government, it is a matter that affects other Departments and many other professions.