HC Deb 05 April 1967 vol 744 cc224-6
22. Mr. Edward M. Taylor

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many children at school in Scotland are receiving only part-time education; and what percentage of this total is in respect of Glasgow schoolchildren.

44. Mr. Galbraith

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many children in Glasgow were in part-time education in each of the last five years.

Mr. Millan

The incidence of part-time education in Glasgow varies greatly according to the time of year. At the beginning of March, when it is generally greatest, the number of pupils losing more than two hours of instruction per week, in each of the last five years, was as follows:

1963 3,297
1964 1,999
1965 3,674
1966 2,128
1967 3,487

The latest figure for late March 1967 shows a drop to 2,960 which represents 65 per cent. of the Scottish total of 4,542 at that date.

Mr. Taylor

Will not the hon. Gentleman agree that this is a very serious situation? Will he say precisely why he has had the Roberts Committee's Report for nine months and has not even indicated whether the Government support it or oppose it?

Mr. Millan

Of course it is a serious situation, but, as I think the figures demonstrate, it is, happily, not a deteriorating situation—though I may say that this is a very little comfort to the parents of the children involved and I do not want to sound in the least complacent about it. On the Roberts Report, it is only within the last two or three months that we have had the comments of all the interested organisation on both the teachers' and employers' sides. These comments are by no means unanimous, but we are certainly considering this matter very carefully indeed.

Mr. Woodburn

Could not my hon. Friend perhaps do something to discourage the campaign of almost misrepresentation against highly qualified people who are serving, and thereby helping to remedy this grievance? Could he make full use of otherwise well educated people to fill this gap, even though they may not be certificated in the ordinary way?

Mr. Millan

My right hon. Friend will probably know that at present the General Teaching Council has a working party dealing with the problem of uncertificated teachers. That working party seems to be making very good progress, and we shall naturally consider very carefully indeed any report it makes. This is a very difficult problem, and we are very anxious to get some agreed solution to it.

Mr. MacArthur

Will not the Under-Secretary recognise that this is really quite a monstrous case of social injustice in Scotland? Will he not try to restore a proper sense of priority in Scottish education? Will he drop his idea to abolish fee-paying schools and to force a pattern of comprehensive education on local authorities—

Mr. Speaker

Order. We are getting wide of the Question on the Order Paper.

Mr. Millan

As far as the supplementary question is in order at all, Mr. Speaker, I repeat to the hon. Gentleman that the current figure I quoted is about the same as the figure in 1963, when the hon. Gentleman's right hon. Friends were in power. There is no adverse trend. I do not wish to underestimate the seriousness of this problem in any way, but, equally, it is very bad indeed to exaggerate, particularly for party political purposes, the difficulties we have, especially in Glasgow.

Mr. Taylor

On a point of order, Mr. Spaker. In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall seek to raise the subject on the Adjournment.