HC Deb 02 July 1958 vol 590 cc1333-5
48. Miss Herbison

asked the Minister of Labour if, in view of the shortage of teachers, he will end the call-up of teachers for National Service.

Mr. Iain Macleod

No, Sir. The existing arrangements for the deferment of teachers are the result of a careful review last year with the various interests concerned, and I do not contemplate any further extension at this time.

Miss Herbison

Would not the Minister agree that British influence on world affairs depends not only on the strength of our defences but on the strength of our economy? Is he not aware that there are many objections to the many anomalies in the present deferment scheme? Will he have these examined and not wait until 1959 to ensure at least that in the field of science and mathematics teachers those who teach these subjects will not be taken for National Service?

Mr. Macleod

I did not mean to imply, in answer to an earlier Question, that I would wait until 1959. It will be examined much sooner than that. I was talking about those who may be called up in 1959, and the arrangements for graduates for this year are, at the moment, far advanced. I do not feel that I can take the very large step which the hon. Lady suggests. We have made many improvements in the question of the call-up of those with graduate facilities, and I do not think that at the moment we can go further.

Mr. Dugdale

In view of the Government's perfectly correct policy of exempting miners and other workers of whom there is a shortage, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he does not consider that there is a shortage of teachers, or does not he consider their work as important as that of other workers who are exempt?

Mr. Macleod

No, of course not, but there are obvious differences between the two. Miners are not required in their occupation or calling in the Forces, but the Services today are a highly complicated profession and have a need for a certain number of skilled graduate teachers, which is one of the difficulties.

Mr. V. Yates

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that a very grave situation exists in certain parts of the country because of the very grave shortage of teachers, and especially in Birmingham and the Midlands area, and ought not something to be done to try to get more teachers?

Mr. Macleod

This question was considered by my Technical Personnel Committee, which did not think it right to go further than the last concession which was announced in relation to those with third class honours and pass degrees in chemistry and biological science. I must, I am afraid, stick to the point that for the 1958 call-up I cannot go beyond the major concessions which the Government have announced.

Mr. Dugdale

Does that answer really mean that only those teachers are called up who can actually be used as teachers in the Services?

Mr. Macleod

No, it does not mean that. I wish it were possible to allot the pegs to the holes quite as precisely as that. I did not mean to imply that for a second. What I say is that there is a need in the Services today for many of these people.

Mr. Robens

The right hon. Gentleman has said that for 1958 he did not propose to change the basis of the call-up, which presupposes that he may be considering a change for 1959. May I ask him whether, if that is the case, he would prepare a White Paper on the whole matter, because I think that the House will probably want to discuss the whole question of deferment? Teachers themselves are not the only people who have to be considered in this matter.

Mr. Macleod

I should have thought that the various concessions that have been made are well-known to the House, but if it would help to have them brought together in a more convenient way, I will certainly look at that point.

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