HC Deb 06 November 1968 vol 772 cc988-1034

8.6 p.m.

Mr. Ian MacArthur (Perth and East Perthshire)

I beg to move, That the Schools (Scotland) Code (Amendment No. 1) Regulations, 1968 (S.I., 1968, No. 1055), dated 2nd July, 1968, a copy of which was laid before this House on 12th July, in the last Session of Parliament, be withdrawn. My hon. Friends and I hoped to move a Prayer on this subject before the Summer Recess. The regulations were laid on 12th July and within a few days thereafter we sought to move a Prayer. I very much regret that the Government did not find time for us to debate these regulations in July before we rose for the Summer Recess. A debate at that time, before the regulations came into operation on 1st August, would have been helpful to the thousands of teachers affected by them and might well have avoided difficulties which some of them still face.

Our purpose in moving the Prayer is to probe further into the effects of the regulations and to put certain specific questions. I am sure that the Undersecretary will welcome the opportunity to explain the regulations more fully, although he will recognise as I do that some of the ground was covered in an Adjournment debate a few days ago initiated by my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward M. Taylor). Indeed, some of our questions arise from the brief reply to that short but very useful debate.

The purpose of the regulations is clearly stated in an Explanatory Note which I will read because it puts them into a nutshell: This amendment to the Schools (Scotland) Code 1956 restricts from 1st August 1968 teaching employment in primary schools (other than special schools) to teachers who are either registered or conditionally registered by the General Teaching Council. This restriction applies also in secondary schools and special schools except that, for a period not exceeding five years, authorities are permitted, where the services of a registered or conditionally registered teacher cannot be obtained, to employ some other person on a temporary basis. Such an appointment must however be reported to a reference panel constituted by the Secretary of State; and where it is disapproved by the panel, the employment of the teacher must be terminated. In any event the appointment cannot exceed one year without further review by the panel. In addition Circular 680 from the Scottish Education Department set out the background to the regulations, pointing out that they arose from the recommendations of the Working Party on Uncertificated Teachers which was appointed by the General Teaching Council. The Working Party's main recommendation was that a category of conditionally registered teachers, should be established whereby uncertificated teachers would have the opportunity of joining the register conditionally, provided that they have fulfilled certain conditions, for example, had served three full terms and had been recommended by their head teacher with the support of the local director of education.

During the short period of conditional registration, the teacher's qualifications and experience would be reviewed and a decision reached about any further training that should be taken in order to secure full registration. Similar provisions were to apply to future entrants to the profession whose qualifications were found to be only marginally short of the requirements. This is a sensible proposal, tackling the long-standing problem of the uncertificated teacher, with which we have lived for long enough.

Some uncertificated teachers are good teachers. I say that because there are some certificated teachers who would have pressed for sterner action than is being taken to solve the problem of the uncertificated teacher. I want to emphasise this point. The only failure of some uncertificated teachers is that their professional, paper-type qualifications, are below, perhaps marginally below, the required level. It would be harsh to dismiss them and it would be unwise to require their dismissal when we are short of teachers.

In his reply to the Adjournment debate to which I referred, the Minister said that 227 uncertificated teachers were regarded as eligible for exceptional admission to the register right away and that a further 857 teachers had been granted conditional registration with the opportunity of acquiring the necessary qualifications for registration. Those teachers would be the last to be admitted to the profession in the absence of some conditional provision of this kind.

I now turn to another effect of these regulations. It is from this that my major questions arise. The Wheatley Committee's Report said, and this was quoted by the Minister the other night: We therefore recommend that registration with the Council be obligatory on all teachers who wish to claim entitlement to the benefits conferred by certificated status. As the Explanatory Note, to which I have already referred, makes clear, teaching employment in primary schools is now restricted to teachers who are either registered or conditionally registered. This same restriction applies to secondary schools, and special schools except that for up to five years temporary appointments of non-registered teachers may be made, subject to the agreement of a reference panel. As the House knows, some teachers have not registered with the General Teaching Council. I made it clear in my speech in the recent Adjournment debate that I regarded registration as being in the best interests of the profession and of the individual teacher.

Further, the registration system is essential for the proper working of the General Teaching. Council, which I am sure all of us support. A number of fully-qualified teachers have not registered with the Council. Their reasons for not registering may not command the support of the Government, or many of my hon. Friends, but I suggest that the problem requires sympathetic handling. Some teachers, perhaps many, have not registered for a variety of reasons. Some, perhaps most, of the qualified but non-registered teachers belong to the Scottish Schoolmasters' Association.

I do not know whether the Minister has seen the Association's latest letter, but one was sent to Scottish Members of Parliament dated 4th November. That letter opposes the principle of compulsory registration, a point of view which I do not accept. I believe that the principle is right. It is the manner of carrying it out which I question. The Association also sets out various objections to the composition and powers of the General Teaching Council. I suspect that this may be outside the permissible scope of this debate. If the Minister can properly make any comment about these objections it would be very helpful. Clarification at this stage might remove some of them. If it is not possible to do this tonight for procedural reasons perhaps the Minister will find another opportunity.

One of the points raised by the Association relates directly to the regulations. This concerns the vagueness in the sentence: As soon as practicable the Authority shall report the appointment to the reference panel. The letter claims that these words "as soon as practicable" are vague and open to abuse. They are certainly vague and as the hon. Gentleman knows I am always suspicious of any imprecise wording in legislation. The law, and that includes regulations of this kind, must be precise. In this instance, the regulations are far from precise. I hops that the Minister will explain what is in his mind in using these words.

I note that Circular 680 dated 6th May, invited representations or observations on the draft of these regulations. Perhaps the Minister can tell us what representations he received from the Scottish Schoolmasters' Association in reply to that invitation and what discussion he subsequently had with the Association in an attempt to deal with its doubts and objections.

Some teachers have no doubt refrained from registering for reasons other than those set out by the Scottish Schoolmasters' Association. Some may have moral objections to the principle of registration, reasons which we can respect, even if we happen to disagree with them. Perhaps this debate will give the Minister an opportunity to try and persuade them that it is in the interests of education that the General Teaching Council should be clearly established as a professional body representing all the teaching profession. It might be argued that there is a moral issue in that too.

One of the most important questions I want to ask is, can the Minister yet tell us how many fully qualified teachers have not registered with the Council? It has been claimed, and it is claimed by the Scottish Schoolmasters' Association this week that the number may be as high as between 3,000 and 4,000. I doubt whether the figure is as high as that. The Minister said in reply to the Adjournment debate that the number was "very small indeed". He did not really know, because he made it clear to the House that it was impossible at that stage to get the information.

It is right that we should insist tonight that the Minister should discover the actual figure. I presume that he could do this by consulting with the Council on the one hand, and local education authorities on the other. It will be astounding if he cannot give us more information tonight. If the figure is small, that is no reason for not trying to persuade his teachers to register. Perhaps the most effective persuasion would be to listen sympathetically to their objections and answer the points they raise. Surely that is a wiser course than appearing to ignore them.

If, on the other hand, the figure is large, I suggest that the Minister is placing an impossible requirement on local education authorities. He is requiring them to dismiss qualified but unregistered teachers who are subject to dismissal not because of any falling short in their qualifications, but because they happen not to have registered with the Council. I suggest that this requirement cannot be met at a time of teacher shortage if the number involved is really substantial.

If the Minister's intention is simply to let matters lie and not press the regulations he will turn the regulations into a dead letter, and make a nonsense of future regulations. It is because of that fundamental point, and not because of any objection to the principle behind these regulations, that I move the withdrawal. I trust that the Minister in his reply will be able to put my fears at rest and answer my questions, because if he can do that he will at the same time, reassure those teachers who have not registered that it is in the interests of education that they should do so.

8.20 p.m.

Mr. George Lawson (Motherwell)

I find it difficult to understand why the Opposition have tabled this Motion. I cannot see them pushing it to a Division in any conceivable circumstances. They have already said that they support the Measure from which the regulations stem and that they are much in favour of the General Teaching Council. In fact, they are in favour of registration. They are not quite in favour of the way in which it is done. I listened with care to the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur), but I am not sure that I understand the objection. What is the objection to the way in which this is done? Teachers are now required to register instead of to obtain, as formerly, certification.

We have all had the matter of certification thrown at us for years. The demand from the teaching profession has been for the abolition of the right of anyone other than a certificated person to be employed in the teaching profession. That is what is being done in the Regulations. It is not to be done at one fell stroke, and I think that the hon. Gentleman agrees that, in fairness, it should not be done in one fell stroke. It is to be done within a stipulated period, and the hon. Gentleman said that this was reasonable.

As far as I can gather, the objection of the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire is to the words "as soon as practicable" in the proposed paragraph (4)(a) in Regulation 3(2) which states that: as soon as practicable the authority shall report the appointment to the reference panel". He said that we must always oppose vagueness in legislation. The proposed paragraph (4)(b) of the Regulation 3(2) provides that the authority"— that is, the education authority making the appointment— shall forthwith discontinue the appointment if the reference panel to which the conditionally appointed teacher is referred for scrutiny as to his fitness to teach, although not a registered or certificated teacher, having regard to all the relevant circumstances, determine that it shall not be approved". The matter is referred to the panel "as soon as practicable". The proposed paragraph (4)(c) provides that if the appointment is not disapproved as aforesaid, the authority may continue it at their discretion for a period of not more than twelve months from the date on which it was made… My understanding of those words is that as from the date when the person was appointed there is a fixed period of one year within which the matter must be settled and, if it is not settled in this time, that person shall cease to be considered fit to continue in his post.

I cannot understand the cry that there is no time limit. There is a limit of a year. There is a further limitation in the regulations, namely, that even in the secondary school a person who we would now consider to be a non-certificated teacher shall be eliminated over a period of five years. He is being given an opportunity to qualify in the sense of being certificated.

We have always said that if and when the process of getting rid of non-certificated teachers were adopted, it should be done in such a way as would cause least injury to people who may have devoted many years of their lives to teaching and to the schools relying on such teachers. There are some teachers who are gravely unfit to teach. If they could not measure up to the standards laid down by the General Teaching Council, they should go. However, they should be given the opportunity to see whether they can measure up to those standards. This is what the Regulation does, in a way which places specific limitations on the period within which it shall be carried out.

We have all been subjected over a considerable time to a bombardment of criticism and worse than criticism of the General Teaching Council. I am sure that nobody in the House would agree with the main criticisms which have been levelled at the Council. For example, who among us would say that the Council should be dominated by teachers and that what might be called non-teaching interests should not have a powerful voice in the Council? The interests of the children must be represented, and I am all for teachers having a strong voice in this matter. They have 25 members out of 44 on the Council. In addition, many of the members of the Council are from the teaching profession. This is one of the objections which give rise to the difficulties with which we are confronted. The difficulty concerning the 3,000 or 4,000 qualified teachers would not arise if it were not for the criticism levelled at the Council.

Mr. J. Bruce-Gardyne (South Angus)

The hon. Gentleman should not give the impression that all those who are fully qualified and who have declined to register have declined to register simply because of the composition of the General Teaching Council.

Mr. Lawson

I should be prepared to say that what the hon. Gentleman says is true. Perhaps a lot of people—I do not know whether there are a lot; I doubt whether there are as many as the 3,000 to 4,000 mentioned—do not know why they have not registered. Even such highly educated people as the hon. Gentleman sometimes talks about can be carried away with prejudices and mistaken ideas and blinded to a reasonable examination of what they object to. Anyone in the teaching profession, looking at the matter reasonably, cannot but say that in Scotland the teaching profession has been given what it does not have elsewhere—a large measure of control over its own profession.

I would like to turn the question round to another side of it. The hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire said that if at a time when there is a great scarcity of teachers there are 3,000 or 4,000 qualified teachers who have not registered, we cannot turn them out of the profession. Very well. There are times when one must apply the law with a measure of reasonableness and one must think of the consequences.

On the other side of the picture, however, there may be education authorities who are reluctant at this stage to apply the Regulations with the full force with which they might be applied. There may be education authorities who are hanging on to their non-certificated teachers who, perhaps, could not measure up if they were to go before the reference panel.

I put it to the hon. Member, and to my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary, that we cannot agree that qualified teachers, who refuse to register, should be treated differently from the non-qualified who are, as it were, covered up by the education authority concerned. In other words, if the position persists whereby a substantial number of qualified teachers refuse to register, they make it impossible reasonably to take action against those teachers who still continue in the teaching profession, although they could not measure up to the qualifications. We cannot apply the Regulations both ways. We cannot protect the qualified teachers and say that we cannot turn them out because we need them, and then tell the others that they must get out because the Regulations say so. That would be to defeat our own purpose.

If the purpose of the teachers, the guides or the leaders of the teaching profession is to achieve a wholly registered profession equivalent to what they used to speak of as certificated teachers, they are standing in the way of their own objective as long as they refuse to be registered.

Mr. Esmond Wright (Glasgow, Pollok)

Surely, the hon. Member realises that we are imposing an obligation on the local authority to dismiss certificated teachers, who might have 20 or 25 years' experience. It is this threat which is at the centre of our concern.

Mr. Lawson

I agree. I am saying that the obligation is on the local authority to dismiss teachers who have not registered. Hon. Members are arguing that we cannot—must not—dismiss those qualified teachers who refuse to register because they are so badly needed. We cannot, and we ought not to, expect a local authority not to dismiss them and, at the same time, to dismiss the others.

If the education authority is expected to apply the Regulations, it must apply them all round. I am sure that the hon. Member for Glasgow, Pollok (Mr. Wright) agrees with me. One would simply be putting the education authority in a position where, much as it might like to, it cannot deal with the one set of teachers because it is stymied with the other. It is absurd for this learned profession of people who shape the thinking of our children to put themselves in this position. The sooner they get themselves out of this position and recognise that they have in the General Teaching Council what they have asked for, years, the better. If some of them do not have 100 per cent. of what they might have asked for, they have got by far the most of it. They have an excellent Teaching Council.

My advice to the Opposition is to withdraw the Motion and to advise teachers all round to become registered. On that basis alone, if they are themselves registered, will they have any legitimate claim to grouse at protection regarding the people who are not yet properly qualified.

8.33 p.m.

Mr. John Brewis (Galloway)

The hon. Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson) begin his speech by saying that he could not understand why we had put down the Motion. He proceeded to answer that by a number of points which he raised, many of which interested us. I only hope that it will not be thought outside this House that, because we put down the Motion to withdraw the Regulations, which is a procedural device to discuss them, we are against the General Teaching Council or the general principle of registration which evolves from that Council.

It was this side of the House, when in Government, which set up the Wheatley Committee. I think I am right in saying that, after it reported in 1963, a Bill was on the stocks which was produced by the present Government when they came into power in 1964. There might have been some differences in the Bill, but it was the intention of both sides to produce a Bill establishing a General Teaching Council. Indeed, when it went through the House its principle had support from all quarters.

There are two important points in these Regulations, first, the question of the uncertificated teachers, of whom we have a considerable number in Scotland at the moment, and secondly the point, which has been made, about the highly qualified teachers who have refused to register.

I think we have probably paid too little attention, in our previous discussions, particularly in the Adjournment debate, to the question of uncertificated teachers. Some of us who have been educated in independent schools tend to think that the uncertificated teacher is somebody who should be considered quite a good chap. I think our view is coloured by the sort of staff one gets in an independent school, people who probably get university degrees and are highly educated men though they have not been through a teacher training college.

However, this is not the correct picture at all of the uncertificated teachers in Scottish schools—with, of course, hon- ourable exceptions. Most of them are totally unqualified, totally uninterested in what they are doing, and are either leaving teaching as soon as they possibly can or are unable to leave teaching because they cannot get another job. Few of them can keep discipline in the form, and the effect on the morale and patience of the qualified teachers is very, very bad indeed. All in all, though it is a great evil, part-time education is probably better than being taught by the average unqualified teacher.

These Regulations have already had a dramatic effect on the number of uncertificated teachers in Scottish schools. There were 2,579 in service, but already 1,020 will have to leave the educational service. In this respect the teaching profession has got something to be very thankful for in the General Teaching Council and these Regulations.

What is also important is the position of the highly qualified, experienced teacher who refuses to register under these Regulations. The first point is, what is the extent of this problem of teachers who have not registered? This we do not know, and this we really want to have the answer to from the Undersecretary of State, because without this answer we are really debating this question in a vacuum.

As far as I can see from the Digest of Scottish Statistics which came out last month, there were in Scottish public schools and grant-aided schools 39.7 thousand certificated teachers, and we know from the answer which the Undersecretary of State gave to the Adjournment debate that 48.5 thousand have applied for registration. There are a number of certificated teachers in Scotland who are not in service. There are many thousands of married women, retired teachers, teachers who are teaching overseas and for whom registration is really not necessary to continue in their professional career.

Even making allowance for those who are laggards there seem to be a lot of enthusiasts for registration, and who are registering although they do not appear to need to register at all. It therefore seems to me that the point which is made, for example, by the S.S.A., that the cost of registration, which is £1, is exorbitant and a deterrent, is absolute nonsense. There seem to be a large number of people who registered just to get their professional qualification on the register and therefore have the opportunities of the entire system.

My second point about registration is that for a certificated teacher registration is as of right, it is automatic and qualifications are not considered.

My third point is whether registration is a limitation on the individual freedom of the teacher. This is a philosophical question which has been answered many times over the last 100 years. Registration secures professional status and professional standards and protects the public from the unqualified. Many professions have adopted registration over the years; for example, doctors, solicitors, dentists, nurses, architects, land agents and engineers. I am sure that it is their professional status and their wish to be numbered among these professions which are important in the minds of the teachers.

There are objections to registration. It may be too great an interference with the liberty of the individual to take on any trade he wishes. There was, for example, a borderline case two or three years ago involving house agents.

The public should realise that there is a real danger in children being educated by unqualified teachers which may be equal to the danger, in a different sense, of being treated by an unregistered dentist. Who wastes sympathy on a solicitor who chooses to throw up his livelihood by not paying the fee to renew his practice certificate? Who sympathises with the lorry driver who refuses on conscientious grounds to renew his driving licence?

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

I apologise for interrupting my hon. Friend, but there is an important distinction between teachers on the one hand and solicitors and dentists on the other, in that solicitors and dentists are, or may be to a substantial extent, by the nature of their employment self-employed, whereas the teacher is not. Does this not represent a considerable distinction?

Mr. Brewis

There are a number of professions, for example, engineers and land agents, in which people are not necessarily self-employed. I would think that there are few highly qualified and experienced teachers who are not registered, and in any case, under these Regulations, they have five years in which they can continue to teach in secondary schools, so that they plenty of time in which to make up their minds whether to register or not.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

Primary schools.

Mr. Brewis

I can assure my hon. Friend who mentions primary schools that a certificated teacher in a primary school who wants a job in a secondary school will not have much difficulty at the present time in getting one. Therefore, we should accept these Regulations, as I am sure we shall, as being to the advantage of the teaching profession and of the public.

8.44 p.m.

Mr. William Hannan (Glasgow, Maryhill)

I listened with interest to what the hon. Member for Galloway (Mr. Brewis) said. Although I agree with much of what he had to say, I question in my own mind whether, if it were membership of a trade union which was being discussed in the same context, the hon. Gentleman would advance the same argument which he has advanced tonight. It is indicative of a difference in emphasis in the approach of the hon. Member for Galloway and that of the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur). Coming through the speech of the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire were the views which have been put forward for some months by the Scottish Schoolmasters' Association. However, even from his speech, I fail to recognise the urgency or justification for putting down a Motion to withdraw the regulations.

Mr. MacArthur

The hon. Gentleman will appreciate that we tried to get a Prayer debated in July, immediately after the draft Regulations were laid before the House. It is not our fault that so much time has passed. If a debate had been held when we wanted it, a great many of our objections to the Regulations would never have arisen.

Mr. Hannan

That is as it may be. But the same views came through the speeches of hon. Gentlemen opposite in our debates upstairs about the General Teaching Council.

There is a grave misconception among hon. Gentlemen opposite when they make reference to the 1965 Act. Their objections do not arise out of that Act but out of the Training Regulations of 1967. It was in the 1965 Act that responsibility for the certification of teachers was taken from the Secretary of State and placed statutorily on the newly created General Teaching Council. We cannot have two systems of certification, and the responsibility has rested on the General Teaching Council since 1st August of this year under these Regulations.

In 1961, a number of hon. Gentlemen opposite were at loggerheads with the teaching profession, so much so that, for the first time, the profession became united and held a one-day strike in Glasgow In those days, of course, right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite were in office, and they had succeeded in persuading the teaching profession to accept a reduced standard, namely, the entry and acceptance of men teachers for a three-year diploma course on the same basis as that which had prevailed for women.

Following that, we had the Report of the Wheatley Committee, and part of the answer to the problem referred to by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Pollock (Mr. Wright) is enunciated by that Committee in its Report. It said, first: We think it desirable, therefore, to stress that all existing certificated teachers will have to register with the council, from a date to be determined by it, if they wish to continue to be entitled to the advantages of certification. That is what is happening. Later, the Committee said: Our recommendations would lose much of their force if registered teachers did not have the same rights as certificated teachers and unregistered teachers did not have the same disabilities as uncertificated teachers. That point has, I think, been largely accepted.

There is no reason for this Motion at all. The fact is that the Official Opposition have been rather pressurised into this present action because of an Adjournment debate the other night—

Mr. Mac Arthur

I apologise for interrupting the hon. Gentleman again, but he has grasped the wrong ends of so many sticks that I must do so. The Regulations were laid on 12th July, and we asked to debate a Prayer on 16th July. There was then time for the Government to have allowed that Prayer to be debated before the Summer Recess. The Adjournment debate to which the hon. Gentleman refers had nothing to do with it at all, though it allowed us to cover some of the ground a few days ago. That is the difference between us.

Mr. Hannan

It is a question of a difference of view. I believe that this Motion would not have been tabled at all but for the Adjournment debate because, in the interval, explanations have become clearer—even to some hon. Members opposite.

The big problem for some of us is the running sore which has existed over so many years in Scottish education—the employment of uncertificated teachers. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson), I am more interested in the quality of the teaching than in the status of those who teach. When many professions, such as physiotherapy, radiotherapy, the law, and even the universities, are demanding ever higher qualifications for entry, it is high time to increase the standards in the schools, which provide the most important source of supply of the human material for those various professions. For that reason, the Regulations should be put into effect. To do so is not only in each child's interests but in the interests of the community. This is particularly true of the primary schools and I am glad that the Regulations require that, at least in the primary schools, all teachers must have this certification.

I will be interested to hear my hon. Friend's reply to some of the figures that have been bandied about, and the talk of thousands of teachers still not registered. It is only a few days since my hon. Friend, replying to the same Adjournment debate said that 45,406 teachers were registered at that time while a further 3,000 applications had been received but not yet processed. One sees from the Scottish Education Department's Report for 1967 that there were 2,579 uncertificated teachers. It is therefore clear that although there have been 1,500 applications for conditional registration, some 1,000 uncertificated teachers have not taken the trouble to apply. This will be held in some quarters to increase the overall problem of teacher supply, and perhaps my hon. Friend can indicate what the increased supply of teachers coming from the training colleges is likely to be in the near future.

Much more could be said, but one wants to be careful. I want to underline most of what my hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell said. In these matters the community, the consuming public, is far too often neglected. Although the improvement of the status of teachers or members of other professions is desirable in itself, in this case, it is not the most important thing.

The important thing we have to safeguard is the standard of the teachers in the schools. Among dentists and other specialists we want the best and that is also true of the teaching profession. I hope that the Opposition will withdraw this Motion and allow the Regulations to proceed.

8.57 p.m.

Mr. Hector Monro (Dumfries)

I am surprised that two such experienced Parliamentarians as the hon. Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson) and the hon. Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Hannan) should object to our putting down this Motion on this important subject. They know the procedure of the House and they know that the only way to raise an important topic of this kind is to pray against an Order. The fact that tonight we have rather longer time than usual to discuss this Motion should gratify us all. The fact that so many wish to speak is a justification for our putting down the Motion, and the fact that the two hon. Members I have mentioned are keen to hear the Minister's answer shows how valuable this debate is.

I appreciate that, as the hon. Member for Maryhill said, this matter arises from the training regulations, but it must be discussed in relation to the Order. We discussed the subject at length during the passage of the Bill. My hon. Friends the hon. Hember for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur) and the hon. Member for Galloway (Mr. Brewis) have explained it in great detail. I am told that in my area 100 per cent. of the primary school teachers, and a high proportion of secondary school teachers, have registered. We should support the G.T.C. and see that any reasonable re- gulations are implemented. That is why it is right tonight to discuss these Regulations and to give the Council support. I believe it is correct.

Tonight we are asking for a progress report in order to allay some of the fears which have been raised over recent months and to give the Minister an opportunity to reply to many points which have been raised in Scotland since the regulations were made. As the hon. Member for Motherwell said, we are most concerned about the children, of whatever age. We are concerned to know that they will not suffer through a reduced standard of education because of fewer teachers, as a result of some having failed to register. As the Minister said in his reply to the Adjournment debate, the number is very small indeed, and it will not have a major detrimental effect on education in Scotland.

I felt, certainly during the passage of the Bill, very sympathetic towards the uncertificated teachers who over the years, especially in country areas, have done a very good job. I think we have moved only marginally too fast towards asking them to register. I think that skilled and experienced uncertificated teachers will, without difficulty, obtain certification and, through conditional registration, will have no difficulty in carrying on their profession.

We are not concerned tonight so much with this type of teacher as, perhaps, with those who have disagreed with the principle of compulsory registration. My hon. Friend the Member for Galloway put this point very clearly. I could not put it better. The Regulations must be generally acceptable to the majority. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Galloway, I am certain that the Teaching Council is an advantage to the profession. I am sure that the Regulations will be administered with sympathy.

On the administration side, I hope that the Council is proceeding to set up the committees and panels which will have to look at this matter in more detail in the future. This is certainly a difficult period for the Council, for teachers, and for local authorities. It is up to us to try to smooth over these difficulties. This debate gives the Minister an opportunity to give those members of the profession who have not registered a lead in the right direction. We should do all that is possible to smooth the path and to ensure that the happiest possible relationships ensue between local authorities, teachers, the Council, and children, in Scotland.

9.2 p.m.

Mr. Richard Buchanan (Glasgow, Springburn)

When this Motion was tabled on 15th July, I thought that we would have a hard-hitting debate. I believe that hon. Members opposite are relieved at the passage of time between the tabling of the Motion and this debate. Their views have tempered greatly. I can disagree with hardly anything that has been said by them tonight. I agree with almost everything that the hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. Monro) said.

I am stimulated to support my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State because of the circular which has been received from the Scottish Schoolmasters Association. There is nothing unusual about receiving circulars from the Association. Whenever the Government introduce any educational matter, there is a deluge of protest from the Association. It seems to have a permanent drip at the end of its nose. It is time that it got a handkerchief to keep its nose clean. The Association seems determined to promote unrest within the profession in Scotland, unrest which will manifest itself in dissatisfaction with the Government. I believe that this is the only reason why hon. Members opposite propose that the Regulations be withdrawn.

The circular asks that the Regulations be withdrawn. It accuses the Secretary of State of diluting the profession, of giving teaching status to the unqualified. It says that there is no control over entry into the profession. This is complete nonsense. The Council is democratic. Every teacher has a vote for the Council. The rights of minorities are preserved—primary teaching, secondary teaching, further education. It may be that there are too many headmasters on the Council, but that is a matter of degree and not of principle. The profession is not being diluted. The very essence of these regulations is that there is now control over that which hitherto was uncontrollable.

The hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur) commented that the expression as soon as practicable is ambiguous. I suppose that it is, but in answer to a Question last week my right hon. Friend said that there was only one local authority out of 35 which had abused the Regulations, and the very existence of the Regulations had given one association of teachers the opportunity to challenge that abuse in the courts.

In my view, the Regulations are entirely necessary. The Teaching Council (Scotland) Act, 1965, created the General Teaching Council, the first of its kind in the world. Being the first, it will inevitably have teething troubles if it is to have teeth at all. As my hon. Friend the Member for Maryhill (Mr. Hannan) said, the Council was charged with keeping a register of fully qualified teachers, and registration with the Council replaces certification.

I cannot emphasise too much the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Maryhill that by any attempt to amend the Regulations we should simply go back to the situation before August, 1968. Between April and August, 1968, there were no barriers put in the way of authorities which wished to employ the most unsuitable persons in schools, and many of them did. No qualifications of any kind were specified, and unregistered teachers or persons whose own education was sadly deficient, who were a menace to the educational future of the pupils under their care, were in many instances employed in our schools in the guise of teachers.

It is a sad fact that everyone imagines that he or she can teach. This is one of the causes of the exploitation of the profession and one reason why the status of teachers is much lower that it should be. The most influential and responsible part of the profession was just not prepared to accept such an unsatisfactory state of affairs, and it is that state of affairs which is being rectified by the first amending Regulation. The Regulations severely curtail the freedom of educational authorities to employ any Tom, Dick or Harry in the guise of teacher.

Again, as my hon. Friend the Member for Maryhill said, the Regulations ensure to a great extent that the parents of Scotland would not be deluded into thinking that their children were being educated when, in fact, they were simply in the care of child minders.

Hon. Members opposite have asked questions about the reference panels. We can see that the reference panels are working and the General Teaching Council is working. The reference panels, each with a representative of the authority, a representative of the teachers and an independent chairman, have the job of scrutinising qualifications for registration or conditional registration and of disapproving the employment of anyone who has nothing to contribute to the educational needs of our children. In the primary schools we are well on the way to having a fully qualified profession. The Regulations go even further. If people do not have qualifications for full registration, they must have them for conditional registration.

Those who do not understand the Regulations, or do not wish to understand them, have represented that conditional registration constitutes a monstrous dilution of the profession. But what are the facts? Before the advent of registration, an unqualified teacher could carry on teaching year after year without any pressure being brought to bear on him or her to become a full member of the profession. Now, provided such a teacher overcomes the first hurdle of obtaining a satisfactory report from the head teacher and director of education, he or she will be given all possible assistance and a reasonable, if necessarily limited, time to obtain the full qualifications, or be compelled to seek employment outwith a profession of which he or she has no intention of becoming a full and qualified member. Could anything be more reasonable? I do not think that more reasonable Regulations could be put forward.

Therefore, instead of having a so-called profession which employing authorities can dilute at will, without reference to members of the profession, the teachers of Scotland, thanks to the Regulations being decried by some hon. Members opposite and by the Scottish Schoolmasters Association, are well on the way to having a real profession of the fully qualified. In the interim period, they can exercise a close scrutiny and control over the employment of those who have not fully qualified, through their representatives on the General Teaching Council and reference panels, and through the head teachers, who are called on to give reports on those who apply for conditional registration.

If the Regulations are withdrawn—and I think that hon. Members opposite are terrified lest that should happen—we shall return to the pre-August position, in which teachers had no control over the unqualified or the dilutee, and education authorities could and did employ anyone, no matter how unsuitable, as a teacher. Therefore, those who would have the Regulations withdrawn are ignorant of the import of these and associated regulations.

Perhaps I am being too kind to the opponents of the Regulations. Perhaps they realise that their annulment would restore the pre-August position, except that teachers would then have the expense and disciplinary burden of registration without the corresponding benefit of being members of a fully qualified, and therefore respected, profession of standing in the community. The vast majority of reasonable and responsible members of the Scottish teaching profession are behind the Government in the Regulations. The tiny, disruptive minority, distorting and distrusting everything that is done, are doing the profession no good.

9.13 p.m.

Mr. J. Bruce-Gardyne (South Angus)

I listened with interest to what the hon. Member for Glasgow, Springburn (Mr. Buchanan) and Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Hannan) said about the timing of the Prayer, and I was a little astonished, because a Prayer was put down against the Regulations at the first possible opportunity, as soon as they were tabled. They are Regulations of no moderate significance.

Mr. Buchanan

I said that hon. Members put the Prayer down on 15th July, but that they are very grateful for the interlude to modify their views.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

I apologise to the hon. Gentleman. I recognise that what he said was that we were glad that there was a long delay, but that is totally untrue as far as I and, I believe, all my hon. Friends are concerned. The reverse is true; we find it outrageous that the Government have not provided time for the discussion of this most important subject. Since the purpose and import of the Regulations, as set out very clearly in the Explanatory Note, is to require local authorities in some instances to dismiss fully qualified, experienced, highly trained and certificated teachers, one would have thought that the Government could have had the courtesy to provide an opportunity to discuss the Prayer before now. The House has been treated disgracefully.

The discussion so far seems to have had something a little academic about it. Perhaps that is no bad thing of a basically academic subject. However, I am concerned with the situation as I find it in my constituency and also, because of an overlapping domicile, the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Buchanan-Smith), and with the situation that actually faces us as a result of the passing of the Regulations.

My hon. Friend the Member for Galloway (Mr. Brewis) said he felt that rather too much attention in our discussion today and the Adjournment debate had been paid to the position of the certificated, qualified teachers who declined to register, as opposed to that of the uncertificated teachers. On the whole I disagree with him. To my mind there has been a conscious attempt, on the part of the Government at any rate, to disregard the position of the highly-qualified certificated teacher under these Regulations, and it is to this exclusively that I shall address my remarks.

As we have been reminded, during the Adjournment debate the other night the Under-Secretary said very airily that he could: say, with a good deal of confidence, that the number of certificated teachers actually in service in the schools who have not registered must be very small indeed…"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd Oct.,1968; Vol. 770. c. 1246.] We are all concerned about the difficulty that we face of not knowing what the number is. I understand how the difficulty arises. As my hon. Friend the Member for Galloway pointed out, a great many teachers not presently teaching are entitled to register and have registered. The problem is that we have, in effect, an open-ended equation. So we do not have a clear idea of how many highly qualified, properly trained and experienced certificated teachers have declined to register.

The figure of 3,000–4,000 in the memorandum from the Scottish Schoolmasters' Association seems a wild exaggeration and must include a very large number of teachers who are not currently in teaching. Nevertheless, to my mind the Under-Secretary's comment in the Adjournment debate was wildly at variance with the facts as I see them in my area. From my own experience and the representations made to me, I can say with some confidence that more than a score of fully-qualified, highly experienced, certificated teachers in the County of Angus alone, excluding Dundee, have declined to register. One does not know the exact number, of course, but I give the figure from the representations made to me by the individuals concerned.

Mr. James Hamilton (Bothwell)

Will the hon. Gentleman tell the House the reasons why they have not registered and whether they are members of any teachers' associations?

Mr. Bruce-Gardyue

If the hon. Gentleman will give me a chance, I shall come to that point. Before doing so I should also make clear that of this score or more known to me, a substantial number—at least a dozen; perhaps more—are currently employed in primary schools. They should, therefore, already have been sacked under the provisions of the regulations by the Angus Education Authority.

Mr. James Hamilton rose

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

The hon. Gentleman must allow me to answer his question. What are their reasons? I must say that, from representations they have made to me, I have not found it easy to understand what their objections to registering are. This I freely concede. In many cases I get the impression that it is not so much the nature of the composition of the Teaching Council to which they object, but the fact, to put it more simply, that since they are qualified and are certificated, they do not see the purpose of registering. I accept that this is not a good argument but it is the situation we face.

It seems to me that there is a considerable element of bluff about the regulations. I asked my local education authority what he intended to do. I pointed out that, to my knowledge, perhaps 20 or 30 or more teachers in the area have declined to register, for good or bad reasons. The answer, in effect, was, "After you, Claud", as the old phrase had it. In other words the local education authority is waiting to see what others are going to do and it is my impression that that is the attitude of all local education authorities in this situation.

One is also led to understand that it is the intention of the Scottish Schoolmasters' Association—and I hold no brief for that organisation—to challenge in the courts the first local authority that applies the Regulations against a fully qualified certificated teacher and sacks him. I am further told—I do not know how good the authority is—that it is likely that the Association would win the case. If that were to happen, the Regulations would collapse.

Mr. Lawson

Is the hon. Gentleman supporting these 20 or more teachers in his area or condemning their action?

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

I am trying to set out the facts and to find out how the Government will deal with them. I am not concerned with condemnation or support. But a significant number of teachers in Angus have not registered, although they are fully qualified, and I want to know what is going to happen to them.

Mr. James Hamilton rose

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will let me get on.

Mr. James Hamilton

But you have not answered part of my question. You have mentioned 20 teachers and have told us that 12 are primary teachers.

Mr. Speaker

Order. I have not told the House anything.

Mr. James Hamilton

I apologise, Mr. Speaker. The hon. Gentleman has told us that 20 teachers or more in his constituency, to his knowledge, have not registered and that 12 are primary teachers. If I understand him correctly, he does not understand why they have not registered. On that basis, I assume that he is opposed to their not registering. Will he tell us whether they are members of a teachers' organisation?

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

I apologise to the hon. Gentleman. He did put two questions to me and I forgot to answer the second one. It is an important question. It was put to me by the local members of the Educational Institute whom I saw about the matter. As far as I can tell, the teachers concerned are more or less equally divided between the three major organisations, with one-third being in the Educational Institute of Scotland, one-third in the S.T.A., and one-third in the S.S.A.

I get the impression that the Government are hoping that the stragglers will gradually come into line, or that, if they do not, they will somehow not be noticed. I can assure the Under-Secretary that, if he thinks that, he is quite wrong. They will not come into line and, from what I have been able to learn, I am sure that they would be noticed.

I did not agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Galloway when he said that there was a great deal of enthusiasm for registration. That may be true in his area, but I am bound to tell him that it is not in mine. I can tell him from my experience that in Angus there is a marked lack of enthusiasm for registration and, if it is found that there are stragglers who have not registered and who have continued not to register, I have no doubt that there will be many more when the time comes to renew the fee next year.

In other words, these Regulations may be proved invalid by law or not enforced. If they were not enforced, to judge from our experience in Angus it would mean dismissing teachers with many years of experienced work behind them, teachers with excellent qualifications and records, at a time when there is a serious shortage of teachers.

There is a possible answer to the Government's dilemma. I suggest that the Under-Secretary takes away these regulations and brings in others with two purposes. One would be to require all teachers entering the profession to register with the General Teaching Council. The second would be to deny to qualified teachers—and I am talking specifically about those qualified teachers to whom I have been devoting my remarks—who refuse to register not their right to teach, but their right to enjoy the results of future wage awards negotiated by the G.T.C.

Mr. Speaker

On these Regulations, the hon. Gentleman may not discuss the regulations which he wishes the Minister to bring in but which are not before us.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

I apologise, Mr. Speaker. In any case, thanks to your indulgence, I have been able to make the point. If we have to think purely in terms of these Regulations, as opposed to what I have suggested as a possible alternative, we shall land ourselves in an impossible dilemma of enforcement or disregard and, for that reason, I cannot agree that we should proceed very wisely if we approve these Regulations tonight.

9.28 p.m.

Miss Margaret Herbison (Lanarkshire, North)

I do not agree with the criticism made of hon. Members opposite by my hon. Friends for bringing forward this Prayer, because, if nothing else, the debate on this matter of such importance to education, particularly to the future of our children, will show those who are completely opposed to the General Teaching Council what little basis there is in the case against it. For that reason, if for no other, we should thank hon. Members opposite for moving the Prayer.

I listened with great interest to the hon. Member for South Angus (Mr. Bruce-Gardyne). I waited throughout his interventions in other speeches and during his own to find just where he, as an individual, stood on this issue. I want to find out, if the hon. Member for South Angus opposes these Regulations, what he would put in their place?

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

I have told the right hon. Lady.

Miss Herbison

I am coming to that. It was a good thing for the hon. Member that Mr. Speaker intervened, because if we have this tiny minority among the Scottish teachers who are opposed to these Regulations saying that we are interfering with their freedom now, I can tell him, knowing the teaching profession, having been a member of it for 15 years, that the feeling against these regulations from these people would be as nothing, chicken-feed, compared with the feeling against the kind of Regulations which he suggests we might put in their place.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

All I can say is that to my mind what I was suggesting would be logical, fair and enforceable, whereas the other is not.

Mr. Speaker

Order. I was kind to the hon. Gentleman just now. He must leave that.

Miss Herbison

These Regulations are logical and fair and I hope that they will be enforceable. The hon. Member kept asking the Under-Secretary of State what would the Government do if these 20 people in his constituency—

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

Or more.

Miss Herbison

—and the others, and we do not know the numbers, did not register. Incidentally I hope that my hon. Friend can give us the numbers of those who refused to register. It is not the Secretary of State who has to do anything, it is the General Teaching Council. It is of the greatest importance that hon. Members and every teacher in Scotland should now realise that the Secretary of State has nothing to do with certification, that Scotland is the only country in the world where teachers now have real power in their own hands. I am glad that the vast majority of Scottish teachers are proud to have this power. I know that in many other countries they would give almost anything to have it.

It is for that reason, particularly, that I support these regulations. When the hon. Member was asked a question by one of my hon. Friends, he said that he was not concerned with support or condemnation of those who were taking a line against these Regulations. I had always thought that one of the important functions of Members of Parliament was to try to give leadership and that a Member ought on such vital matters not to sit on the fence.

If a Member of Parliament feels that this is a good thing, not just for the teaching profession in Scotland, but for the education of our children, then he ought to say to those teachers in his constituency that that is what he believes, and he ought by persuasion to be doing everything he possibly can to get them to register with the General Teaching Council.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

I apologise for interrupting the right hon. Lady again, but I ought to assure her that when these teachers came to see me I did urge them to register.

Miss Herbison

I am very glad to hear that, but one would never have got that from the "not concerned with condemnation" attitude. I am delighted to hear that the hon. Member has really tried to persuade these teachers to register.

At present there is one matter of very great importance for the education of children in my constituency.

It has been said that only one education authority in Scotland had brought no names before the reference panel. But that education authority is the second biggest in Scotland, and it is responsible for the education of many thousands of children. I am sorry to say that it is my own education authority of the County of Lanark.

I stress a point which my hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson) made. If we support the Scottish Schoolmasters Association or anyone else opposed to registration, we cannot say to any education authority in Scotland, "We shall enforce these Regulations and you will have to bring before a reference panel the names of uncertificated teachers".

I have been seriously worried for years about the question of uncertificated teachers in our schools. As far as I am aware, the Lanark education authority has had the greatest number of uncertificated teachers. I know that it objected to these Regulations. I expect that, like myself, every Lanarkshire Member had a letter from the Director of Education. I wrote back to him saying that I supported the Regulations completely and could not support the argument against sending to reference panels the names of uncertificated teachers. I hope that the under-Secretary of State will be able to give some information about whether any further decision has been made by the Lanarkshire Education Authority. If not, I should like him to tell us what measures he will take against Lanark education authority to enforce the Regulations.

I am not only concerned about the status of the teaching profession, which is important. I am one of those who believe that one cannot separate the status of the teaching profession from the provision of the best education facilities for children. They are closely linked. These Regulations give a better status to the teaching profession, and I hope that they will be a source of attraction for some of our best young people to come in to the teaching profession.

I am glad that we have debated this Prayer. I hope that the Under-Secretary of State will be able to show clearly to the parents and to the teaching profession in Scotland that we are concerned about the education of our children. I believe that the Regulations will greatly help to provide the kind of teaching profession that all of us who are interested in the well-being of our children wish to see.

9.40 p.m.

Mr. Alick Buchanan-Smith (North Angus and Mearns)

I agree with almost everything that the right hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) said. Despite what the hon. Members for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson) and Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Hannan) said, the value of the debate is that it has made clear to people outside where hon. Members stand. One thing which has been made plain is that we all stand behind the General Teaching Council and what it is trying to achieve. The right hon. Lady said that hon. Members must give leadership to their constituents. But we have another function to perform, and that is to represent in the House the views of those constituents who make their views known to hon. Members, whether they agree with them or not. That was why my hon. Friend the Member for South Angus (Mr. Bruce-Gardyne) was entirely right to put forward those views, because that is one of the reasons why we are here.

At this stage of the debate, there is very little else that can be said and, therefore, I shall be brief. I would, however, like to follow my hon. Friend the Member for South Angus in putting forward views which have been put to me with a certain amount of sincerity by a number of constituents.

What concerns me is that in the present atmosphere, which I condemn, outside this House among certain sections in relation to the General Teaching Council, the work of the Council and all that we want it to achieve will not be accomplished if things continue as they are at the moment. Therefore, the value of this debate is that it has given us the chance to bring home to the Under-Secretary, as, I am sure, he knows, that one must be aware of what is happening and must accept it; and accepting what is happening, one must seek to overcome the problem in the most constructive possible manner.

It is an utter mistake to think that those who have spoken to me and who oppose the Council and who refuse to register, and who, therefore, are coming under threat from the Regulations, oppose it because they belong to a certain teachers' association. I hope that this answers the point made by the hon. Member for Bothwell (Mr. James Hamilton). One of the things that I have tried to discover from them is whether they oppose the Council because they belong to one particular teachers' organisation or another.

I certainly regret and deplore the kind of quarrel and constant bickering that goes on between teachers' organisations in Scotland which is totally against the best interests of education in Scotland. I could not say that too strongly. For the good of education in Scotland, I wish that it would stop and that people would get together in a constructive spirit.

Many of those who have expressed to me their opposition of the Regulations have done so as a matter of principle. Whether we agree with them or not, let us at least accept that for some of them it is a matter of principle. It is difficult to understand, but one of the main reasons that has been put to me, particularly among older, well-qualified teachers, is that they are having to comply with conditions which did not exist when they first qualified. Whether it is pique to their professional pride I do not know, but let us be quite clear that these views are genuinely held by a number of people.

The second thing concerning the teachers' organisations to which the people who object belong—I have found this in my constituency in the County of Angus and in Kincardine, and it is also true in approaches which I have had from teachers in the City of Aberdeen—is that while certain people have not registered, there are also those who have registered but who have done so, as they say, under protest.

I discovered in Montrose Academy, in my constituency, that in a protest which was made by teachers against registration, although some of them registered only four who protested were members of the S.S.A. I understand that in Aberdeen Academy there was a similar "round robin" and that out of 29 E.I.S. members, 25—or 85 per cent.—signed the protest, whereas of the S.S.A. and S.S.T.A. members together, 38 out of 64—a lower percentage—signed the protest.

It is extremely important for us to remember that this protest is, first of all, carried forward by people who oppose the Council as a matter of principle, however misguided we consider them to be. Secondly, there are others who are either not registering or are protesting, not because of pressure from a teachers' organisation, but because of their own feelings in the matter. These are important matters which have been put to me genuinely by constituents. They are important facts which, I hope, the Under-Secretary of State will take into account. What I wish is to see this resolved.

The criticism which I have heard of the General Teaching Council and the whole problem of registration is that there has been a lack of communication between the Council and the profession. I have heard what seems to me a very fair criticism, that there has been lack of communication between the teachers and their organisations themselves. I think this is true, and in other professional organisations, outside the teaching profession, there is lack of communication between the members of the organisations and those leading them. That is another view which has been put to me, and it is, perhaps, one of the reasons why we have this problem, and I hope that this factor may be taken into account.

9.45 p.m.

Mr. Esmond Wright (Glasgow, Pollok)

The subject has been so thoroughly canvassed that there is very little to add, but when the Minister replies I would like him to address himself to two questions.

Before I put those two questions, may I attempt to clarify this issue which my hon. Friend the Member for South Angus (Mr. Bruce-Gardyne) has described as a matter of principle? I am sure that the right hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) will share my views, because I, too, am or have been a teacher in a slightly different area. I believe that this is a matter not only of principle but, as my hon. Friend the Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur) described it, of morality. If we are trying to establish a General Teaching Council which is a truly professional body, then we must expect that there will be some people who do not want, under decree or by order, to have to register with that Council as part of their own professional integrity. This, I believe, is the core of the problem. I do not think it is adequate for the hon. Member for Glasgow, Spring-burn (Mr. Buchanan) to describe this simply as teething troubles. Of course, they are teething troubles, and it may be that there are few teeth that are sore because of the passage of time, but I believe that there remains the question of morality involved in this, and that it is more than a question of principle only.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)

Where is there coercion in this case that is not present with doctors or dentists, or any other professional body?

Mr. Wright

Because in terms of the Act teachers are required to register with the General Teaching Council. A doctor takes an oath to a cause, which is not merely a profession, but of which that professional body is the voice. I suspect that we are missing this issue here, and a number of the people who have come to me, as they have come to my hon. Friend the Member for South Angus and my hon. Friend the Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Buchanan-Smith), and who have spent thirty years in the profession, do not want to be ordered to take high professional standards. This is part of the very integrity which teachers, I would think, respect.

Mr. Alex Eadie (Midlothian)

What is the difference between them and, for example, a miner who is compelled to wear a hard hat before he goes underground but does not want to and says, "I am not going to wear a hard hat"? If he does not, he does not get underground. What is the difference?

Mr. Wright

We are now beginning to debate the whole question of what is a profession. What I am trying to suggest is that once we give order we are beginning to deny professional integrity. We could talk in these general terms for a very long time, but let us come to the questions I want to put.

I should like to hear the Minister's views on this. Will he allow local authorities to dismiss, as, indeed, under the Act they are required to dismiss, qualified teachers simply because they have refused to register? This is where the question of morality comes in, and it is a matter not merely of law, or of this House, but of the fundamental purpose of setting up the General Teaching Council.

My second question—and I want to shift my ground a little—is, will the Minister protect the public from some of the risks of giving total independence to the General Teaching Council, lest we get into a situation whereby it restricts membership of the teaching profession to those it believes are adequately prepared and trained—for example, products of Scottish schools and Scottish universities—and ban from entry into the Scottish teaching profession those who get their qualifications in, say, England, or in, say, New Zealand, to cite a recent case? Perhaps I am beginning to trespass on to a wider subject, but we must not allow the General Teaching Council, in sheltering its professionalism, to abuse that professionalism. We desperately need in the schools more and better-qualified teachers.

I do not want to take up the issue of improving or dismissing the uncertificated teacher. Of course, we want to improve standards, but I am frightened of erecting a system whereby we discourage people from entering the profession in Scotland, whether they are educated in Scotland or outside, by the imposition of rigid and provincial standards of entry. In this sense there is a risk in setting up the General Teaching Council, but I believe that enough has been said here tonight to show that from both sides we wish to protect the interests of the teaching profession and see the General Teaching Council as the best way of doing so.

9.51 p.m.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)

The hon. Member for Glasgow, Pollok (Mr. Wright) has delivered a fascinating speech, In a sense, he has let the cat out of the bag. If it is true that the teachers' real worry is, as I understood him to say, that they were being ordered to do things against their will by some decree, surely it is a reflection of a certain almost petty irritation on the part of teachers who take that attitude. All of us in our working lives have to accept some kind of order.

Mr. Wright rose

Mr. Dalyell

If the hon. Member wishes me to give way, of course I will. I may have misunderstood him.

Mr. Wright

I do not know whether you misunderstood me, but I am trying to establish the point that a teacher with a sense of professional integrity who has honoured that by teaching for 30 or 35 years may well, quite legitimately, feel that he does not then by order or by law have to become a member of the General Teaching Council. He is honouring his cause and has done so throughout his life. I am simply saying that many such people have come to me and registered concern.

Mr. Dalyell

Some of us who have been members of the profession have tried for a long time to get precisely this kind of public recognition, and if it involves some kind of order from outside, this must be accepted, as it is by those who work in universities and in all spheres. I cannot see what the complaint is, other than an insinuation about teachers that I would not for one moment accept.

Mr. Wright

I do not want to continue this argument, but the parallel with the university makes my case. In order to teach in a university, it is not necessary to become a member of any professional body. It is assumed that one is equipped, trained and has certain standards. It is because, in the past, this has not obtained in the schools that the General Teaching Council was set up.

Mr. Dalyell

This does not hold at all. There is entry qualification, as the hon. Member for Glasgow, Pollok (Mr. Wright) well knows, and certain rigorous standards must be fulfilled before one can be accepted.

My hon. Friend has many points to answer, and I would simply like to say that surely, in England, there is the opportunity for a teacher to improve himself, and the last part of the hon. Gentleman's argument seemed to me to be purely fallacious.

9.55 p.m.

The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Bruce Millan)

I very much welcome the opportunity of debating these regulations tonight. I hope that does not put me in too bad an odour with some of my hon. Friends. A fortnight ago we had an opportunity of discussing these regulations, at least indirectly, in a short Adjournment debate, but I welcome the opportunity of expanding a little on what I said on that occasion. I am also very happy to note that all hon. Members who have spoken support the principle of the Regulations, though I appreciate some of the points of anxiety that have been put to me and will do my best to answer them.

I think that it would be convenient to remind the House again of the background to the Regulations. Even tonight, despite what was said a fortnight ago, there were misunderstandings about the effect of them.

Prior to the establishment of the General Teaching Council, the responsibility for establishing requirements for entry to the profession rested entirely with the Secretary of State. It was his responsibility to take care of matters of recognition, probation and discipline, and his control in these matters was exercised through the system of certification.

However, it was a central feature of the recommendations of the Wheatley Committee that this system should be replaced by one of registration with the Council, and that the Secretary of State should surrender his powers of certification. Thus, effective control over the profession would pass from a Minister of the Crown to a professional body constituted on the same lines as councils in other professions, such as medicine, dentistry, nursing, and the like, subject always to the point, as the Wheatley Committee put it, which I am sure the House will agree we must maintain, …that the ultimate responsibility for the schooling of the nation's children is and must remain that of the Secretary of State. The Teaching Council (Scotland) Act, 1965, followed from the recommendations of the Wheatley Committee. It was clear that, if the Council was effectively to take over the responsibilities of the Secretary of State, registration must replace certification as a requirement for employment in primary and secondary schools. The Wheatley Committee recognised that and recommended that registration should be obligatory on all teachers who wished to claim entitlement to the benefits conferred by certificated status.

It is of crucial importance that we understand the issue clearly, because the long sequence of events initiated by the Wheatley Report has brought us inevitably to the position that, if a teacher wishes to be regarded as qualified in all respects to teach in primary or secondary schools and have the attendant benefits of being so qualified, he must register with the General Teaching Council. Objection to registering because he may dislike some aspect or other of the Council is no more open to him than it would be open to a lawyer to object to taking out a practice certificate from the Law Society of Scotland, or to a doctor to object to registering with the General Medical Council.

The Regulations preceding the current ones, the Teachers (Education, Training and Registration) (Scotland) Regulations, 1967, which came into operation on 1st April of this year, therefore, prescribed the qualifications required for registration with the Council and took account of the substitution of registration for certification by making an important Amendment to the Schools (Scotland) Code. Prior to 1st April, the Code stipulated that a person appointed to a teaching post in an education authority school should be a certificated teacher; that is, a teacher holding the Secretary of State's certificate of competence to teach.

The Amendment substituted registration for certification as the normal requirement for such an appointment, and that brought certain disabilities to the certificated teacher, as from 1st April, who did not register. According to the Code, he could no longer retain a permanent appointment. His prospects of promotion, and so on, were restricted by the Regulations which came into operation on 1st April.

I want to make that clear because it should be understood that, even if the regulations were not accepted—and I see no prospect of it happening—these disabilities to the certificated teacher who has not registered would still remain, because they follow from the previous Regulations and not from those which we are debating tonight.

The Schools (Scotland) Code (Amendment No. 1) Regulations make a further change as from 1st August. This Amendment prohibits entirely the appointment of unregistered teachers—in other words, those who are neither fully nor conditionally registered—in primary schools and imposes restrictions on their appointment in secondary schools—

It being Ten o'clock, the debate stood adjourned.

Ordered, That the Proceedings on the Motion relating to Education (Scotland) may be entered upon and proceeded with at this day's Sitting at any hour, though opposed.—[Mr. Concannon.]

Question again proposed.

Mr. Millan

As I was saying, the amendment we are now making prohibits entirely the appointment of unregistered teachers in primary schools, and imposes restrictions on their appointment in secondary schools and special schools. While it permits an education authority to continue to make such appointments on a temporary basis in secondary schools, the authority is required by the regulations to submit each appointment to a reference panel set up by the Secretary of State. If the reference panel disapproves the appointment, the authority is required to terminate it forthwith.

Two additional points are of importance. First of all, as my hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson) pointed out, an appointment cannot be approved for longer than a year in the first instance. Secondly, the whole reference panel system is to extend for no more than five years from 1st August, which means that at the end of that time the position of secondary schools will be the same as the position we have at the present time in the primary schools.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

The Minister is talking about the appointment of teachers, but the Explanatory Note to the Regulations makes it absolutely clear that it does not merely apply to the appointment—it restricts continuing employment. That is the point.

Mr. Millan

The hon. Gentleman did not listen to my explanation the other evening, and it seems obvious that he does not intend to listen again this evening. However, if he will wait, he will get an explanation of these points, and may conceivably even understand the explanation, though I rather doubt that in view of what he said on a previous occasion.

What I should like to emphasise is that these regulations—that is to say, the regulations that came into operation on 1st August—made no change at all in the Regulations of 1st April in relation to the permanent appointment of qualified teachers. The Regulations with which we are now dealing are concerned only with the temporary appointments that sometimes have to be made when no properly qualified teachers are available. I therefore hope that it will be clear to the House that the code amendment which came into operation on 1st August did not affect in principle the position of certificated teachers; that is to say, qualified teachers who had obtained their qualifications before the Secretary of State's certificate was replaced by registration with the General Teaching Council.

By the amendments that came into operation on 1st April, such teachers were required to change over to the new system of registering with the Council in order to retain or secure permanent teaching appointments. That, for them, was the really significant change in the situation. The amendments we are now considering, on the other hand, are directed at quite a different group of people; namely, the unqualified persons, who in no circumstances can be given permanent appointments because they are neither registered nor conditionally registered. This takes us to the problem of what used to be called the uncertificated teacher but who must now more accurately be described as the unqualified teacher—a problem that we have had with us ever since the end of the war, and a problem, also, which has been growing steadily and getting more difficult of solution the longer we have had it.

In the last session we had about 2,500 uncertificated and unqualified teachers in post—I think that that was the figure quoted by my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Hannan)—but the General Teaching Council, by introducing a concept of conditional registration, has provided a means whereby the qualification and performance of these teachers can be scrutinised. Those who on the basis of head teachers' reports are regarded as giving satisfactory service and with a certain minimum length of service to their credit are being given the chance to secure full registration. Those who are not in that position, are of course being eliminated from the schools.

I gave some figures when I spoke about this on 22nd October. I said then that there were 1,599 teachers who had applied for conditional registration and had not withdrawn their application. Of these 227 were regarded as eligible for exceptional admission to the register right away, 857 had been granted conditional registration for a limited period to obtain the necessary qualifications, and 475 were given conditional registration only for an initial period. Therefore the process of eliminating from the schools through the process of conditional registration those whose qualifications to teach are absolutely minimal whether in terms of experience or professional or academic qualification, is going ahead, I think, very satisfactorily.

So far as those neither registered nor conditionally registered are concerned, we are now dealing with them by the reference panel procedure laid down by the Regulations which we are discussing tonight. One advantage of discussing these Regulations rather late in the day is that I am able to give the House some information about the operation of the reference panels. Perhaps therefore I should bring up to date the information which I gave a fortnight ago. The total number of references to the reference panels constituted under these Regulations by 5th November was 704 and 572 of these have already been dealt with and 132 are still under consideration. If one considers the total number of uncertificated teachers we had in the service last Session and takes account of the process of conditional registration, I think one can see right away that already the vast bulk of the unqualified teachers who are neither registered conditionally nor fully have already been submitted to the reference panels.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) made the point that one authority had not submitted any names to reference panels. There are in fact three authorities in that situation, but the other two are small authorities and I think we can take it that they have no unqualified persons to submit. The other authority is Lanarkshire and we know there must be considerable numbers of unqualified persons there affected by the reference panel procedures laid down in these Regulations. As I understand the Lanarkshire position the appropriate sub-committee of the education committee has taken the decision that these names should be put forward to the reference panel, but that decision, unless it was ratified today, has not yet been ratified by the full education committee.

If the education authority in Lanarkshire does not submit these names to the reference panels, it will be in default of the Regulations we are discussing. It will be my intention to see that that default does not continue for any longer than is absolutely necessary. I give the undertaking to my right hon. Friend that I shall certainly see that the position in Lanarkshire is taken care of. If the authority does not submit the names, I repeat, it will be in default of the reference panel procedure, and therefore in default of the law.

I hope I have made clear that when we are talking about these regulations we are talking essentially about the problem of unqualified teachers. I hope, too, I have made clear that any suggestion that we should have in any way avoided or delayed submitting these Regulations, even if that had been possible in face of the obligations under the 1965 Act, would have meant that we would not have been able to deal with this problem of unqualified teachers. My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Springburn (Mr. Buchanan) put this very clearly indeed. Without these Regulations we have no effective way of dealing with the problem of unqualified teachers.

I come to the second important aspect of this debate. Having said all that, I agree immediately that these regulations now bring out more sharply the position of the certificated teachers who have not registered with the Council. This is a matter which has excited some interest this evening.

Mr. MacArthur

I am glad that the Under-Secretary intends to deal with this question. I thought for one moment that he did not intend to do so. If there has been any misunderstanding about the scope of these Regulations, I think that he will accept that this arises very largely from the explanatory note at the foot of the Regulations and from paragraph 5 of his own circular, which relate these Regulations directly to the continuing employment of certain teachers. The hon. Gentleman will appreciate that our central concern is with the position of the qualified teacher who is not registered. I am very glad that he is now coming to this question. I do not think that it is irrelevant to these Regulations.

Mr. Millan

I am not complaining about the fact that there has been a certain confusion about the effect of these Regulations, because it is a rather complicated operation. That was why I thought it was useful as a preliminary to discussing these Regulations to remind hon. Members briefly of the background, because the two sets of Regulations must be read together when we are considering the question which I shall now deal with, namely, the question of the certificated teacher who has not yet registered with the Council.

As I have already said, from 1st August under the present Regulations the disabilities of having no longer an entitlement to a permanent appointment apply. They have applied under the previous Regulations from 1st April.

Since we are prohibiting the employment of teachers not registered or conditionally registered in primary schools altogether, and in secondary schools except through the reference panel procedure—this is indispensable to what we are doing with unqualified teachers—we are by these Regulations, therefore, read together with the previous ones, prohibiting the employment of certificated but unregistered teachers altogether in our schools.

I do not know why hon. Members seem to have taken the attitude that this is some kind of confession or admission. This is absolutely inherent in these regulations. This means, in effect, that when the Regulations go through, local authorities will be under an obligation no longer to employ certificated teachers who are not registered with the Council. Incidentally, even for these teachers the reference panel procedure, which they obviously would not accept, will not be appropriate, because that is not dealing with teachers in this category. So certificated teachers who are not also registered with the Council are no longer eligible 10 be employed in our schools.

Therefore, there will be an obligation—I say this quite openly; this is what it means, this is what the Government intend it to mean, and this is what the local authorities know it to mean—on local authorities to discontinue the employment of these teachers in their schools.

This is the logical consequence of the Teaching Council (Scotland) Act, 1965. This was a point which was made by my hon. Friend the Member for Mary-hill and others. We cannot have a General Teaching Council in operation in Scotland unless it insists on 100 per cent. registration. There cannot be two systems operating side by side simultaneously—a system of registration with the Council, on the one hand, and some special privileges still adhering to previously certificated teachers which enable them to carry on without registration with the Council, on the other. This was inherent in the 1965 Act, which had support from all quarters of the House, and every hon. Member who supported the Act must have realised that it was the inevitable consequence.

The second main point I make in this connection—this is directed to the teachers concerned, the small number who are certificated but not registered—is that the remedy for their position lies within their own hands. All they have to do—it is a formality in their case—is to register, and then the various disabilities which we have discussed disappear en- tirely. Anyone who finds himself in that position has a simple remedy to remove himself from it, namely, to register with the General Teaching Council.

I recognise that there are some teachers who dislike the General Teaching Council as at present constituted. I should have been surprised if a radical change of this nature had gone through with 100 per cent. acceptance. Inevitably, there will be different views about a Council of this sort. We have not heard detailed complaints tonight about the present Council, although there have been incidental references to its composition, and so on. I need not go into those questions now; they are not covered by these Regulations.

All I need say is that criticisms of the Council of the kind one has had, for example, from the Scottish Schoolmasters' Association are very familiar; they have been dealt with in correspondence and other ways many times in the past year or so. No new argument against the Council has been produced for a long time. Time and again, we find we are going over ground which was all debated exhaustively at the time when the Act was passed.

In considering the extent of the opposition, I have to have some regard to the number of teachers registered with the Council. I was asked to give further information to bring up to date the figures which I gave a fortnight ago. There has been a further improvement since then. The latest figures I have, up to today, show that 48,769 teachers have applied for registration and 45,973 of these have completed the process by paying the registration fee of £1. In addition, there are the 1,500 teachers conditionally registered to whom I have already referred.

At the last count in December, 1967, there were no more than 42,000 teachers in service, of whom 3,500 were teaching in further education colleges and colleges of education, and there is no compulsory registration at present in their case. One looks, therefore, at the total number of teachers and compares It with the number of applications and full registrations which we now have. I repeat again that reference to the figures leads to the conclusion that an overwhelming majority of teachers in primary and secondary schools have now registered, and the number of those who have not registered must be very small.

I was asked whether I could be more precise than that. I am sorry that I cannot give more precise information this evening, since the first responsibility here lies with the local education authorities. It is easy enough to ascertain the total number of teachers who have registered, but it is not quite so easy a job—and it has to be done by individual education authorities at their own level, by analysing their present teaching force—to be sure of the number of certificated teachers who are not registered with the General Teaching Council. But I repeat—there can be no doubt about it—that the number must be very small, and figures of the kind mentioned in the S.S.A. circular of 4th November are completely inaccurate and cannot possibly represent anything like the present position. I think that it was the hon. Member for Galloway (Mr. Brewis) who brought out the interesting point that large numbers of teachers who did not require to be registered have registered with the General Teaching Council. We must keep that in mind when trying to judge the attitude of teachers generally towards registration with the Council.

I have been told that some of the teachers who have registered have done so under duress. But there is a good deal of contrary evidence, particularly when one considers the decisions taken at the E.I.S. annual congress and the annual general meeting of the S.S.T.A. recently to recommend their members to register with the General Teaching Council, that a substantial majority in the teaching profession are in support of the General Teaching Council. I have to take account of the attitude of those organisations as well as that of any minority that may wish to recommend to teachers that they should not register with the Council. But ultimately the question of the continuation of the Council and its success will, and must, depend on the willingness of teachers to support it, register with it and take part in its activities. The teachers should realise this. The Council cannot be sustained except with the encouragement and sustenance of the teachers. It cannot be sustained simply by the Secretary of State or even by official teachers' organisations.

The hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur) made a point about the general attitude towards the Council at present. I am aware of the vigorous campaign of opposition to the G.T.C. that has been carried on over the past year. I think that the figures of registration show how ineffective that campaign has been. I certainly take the position that the opposition to the Council would not justify the Government in seeking to alter at this stage the arrangements approved by Parliament little more than three years ago. However, I should make it clear that change is not out of the question for all time. No piece of law is immutable, and every Act of Parliament can be amended by subsequent legislation should Parliament so decide.

Moreover, the Teaching Council (Scotland) Act, 1965 includes at paragraph 6 of Schedule I provision for amendment by order of the paragraphs of the Schedule that prescribe the constitution of the General Teaching Council and the arrangements for making appointments to it. Our minds are therefore by no means closed to change, if a clear need for it is established, such need can be established through constitutional means. To seek to proceed otherwise could well lead to disaster for the whole conception of a Teaching Council, which even the opponents of the present Council say that they support in principle.

Therefore, I hope very much that those teachers who are certificated but have not registered with the Council will pay full account to the speeches from both sides of the House tonight, the message of which I believe is that they should register now with the General Teaching Council. That is also the message that I would give them. It is perfectly open to them, as registered teachers, to put forward any views they may have about the composition of the Council and any changes they might wish to see in it. The existing Council completes its four-year period of office early in 1970, and elections of teacher-members of the next Council will be held at the end of 1969. If, as it is claimed, there is a substantial groundswell of discontent in the profestion, this will be reflected in the electoral results. As a consequence, the Council could be moved to press for reform of its composition. In any event, the Government would give most careful consideration to any expression of teacher opinion as it emerges in the year ahead, particularly from the elections, and would, if need be, take such steps as appeared appropriate to consider adjustments to the functioning of the Council.

The General Teaching Council has been the subject of intense and sometimes bitter controversy in the profession. It is a controversy—here I agree very much with what the hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Buchanan-Smith) said about it—which if continued can in the end do nothing but harm to the teaching profession and the education service in Scotland.

I said a moment ago that there are ways in which discussion and argument about the General Teaching Council can take place within a constitutional framework. I appeal to certificated teachers who have not yet registered to take that into account and register now so that we can approach the future of the General Teaching Council in a constructive spirit.

As has been pointed out by more than one of my hon. Friends this evening, the Council represents the most advanced state of self-government achieved by the teaching profession in any country in the world. That applies, incidentally, to England and Wales, if I might just make that comment. We have, therefore, had a pioneering operation in Scotland supported by the good will and with the encouragement of all quarters of the House. I think it is evident from the debate that that encouragement and good will towards the General Teaching Council still exist and have been enhanced rather than discouraged by the controversy that we have had about the Council over the last year or so.

I hope very much, therefore, that the House will accept these Regulations. I hope it will do so knowing that they are inevitable and inherent in the General Teaching Council Act, 1965. I hope it will accept them realising the full implications of these Regulations. I also hope that the teachers will recognise that what we are doing here is an essential part of giving this large measure of self-government to the profession, which was the purpose of the 1965 Act.

Mr. MacArthur

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.