HC Deb 20 April 1967 vol 745 cc783-4
11. Mrs. Renée Short

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what estimate he has made of the number of married women teachers who would return to full-time or part-time teaching if necessary facilities were made available for their children aged three to five years.

The Minister of State, Department of Education and Science (Mrs. Shirley Williams)

Such an estimate is best made locally. But the January, 1967, returns showed that 90 new classes had been established by 49 local education authorities under the Addenda to Circular 8/60. We are considering whether further changes should be made in the light of the Plowden Report.

Mrs. Short

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply and note that there has been an increase in the number of married women returning to teaching. However, would she not agree that this matter would be much simpler if a central register of women teachers were kept and if a much greater effort were made to provide nursery facilities for the three to five-year-old children of these women, which would affect the whole of education?

Mrs. Williams

There is shortly to be a discussion about whether any extension of the addendum is possible. My hon. Friend will appreciate that there are substantial difficulties on the local authority side about a central register, but we are looking into that matter.

Sir C. Osborne

Would not the best way to get married women teachers to return to the profession be to give some tax relief on their earnings? Would the Minister ask her colleague the Chancellor of the Exchequer to think along these lines?

Mrs. Williams

I think that there is a good deal of misinterpretation of the tax effect on married women in this respect. I agree that there is a psychological difficulty here. If the hon. Gentleman looks closely at the matter he will discover that the tax effects are not as serious as he has been led to believe.