HC Deb 03 May 1956 vol 552 cc563-4
1. Mr. Moss

asked the Minister of Education what consultations he has had with education authorities in the Midlands about the teacher-supply position; and with what results.

The Minister of Education (Sir David Eccles)

Representatives of the Birmingham, Nottinghamshire and Walsall authorities have come to see me recently. We have had full discussions on their staffing problems and have considered measures that they might take to improve the position in their own areas. I shall be seeing Nottingham and Smethwick shortly.

Mr. Moss

Is the Minister not prepared to say what he has in mind to improve the position? Is he aware that it is possible for one chief education officer to say that he can pick and choose among applicants for jobs, whereas in some industrial areas irremediable harm may be done to education because of the inadequate supply of teachers?

Sir D. Eccles

It is a very difficult problem. It is perfectly true that certain areas have a greater drawing power for teachers than have others, but I think that the shortage areas can do quite a lot to help themselves, and I am discussing with them the ways and means. I want to see a number of them in order to get a clearer picture of the difficulties which, I am sorry to say, quite a considerable number of areas will face.

Mr. Swingler

Is the Minister aware that many education authorities are extremely disappointed that he has turned down the recommendation of the Advisory Council, and think that he should exercise some control over the areas in which teachers are difficult to replace?

Sir D. Eccles

Certain education authorities are disappointed, but not the teachers. The hon. Gentleman must make up his mind on which side he is. The teachers, quite rightly in my view, do not want direction of labour, and it is my guess—though I cannot be certain—that if we had a direction of labour preventing teachers from going where they wished, the net result would not help the shortage areas.