HC Deb 06 February 1969 vol 777 cc556-7
5. Mr. Hugh Jenkins

asked the Secretay of State for Education and Science what was the total number of students who received grants from local education authorities in England and Wales in the years 1965, 1966 and 1967 for the purpose of taking a full-time course in drama at establishments specialising in such courses; what was the total cost in each year; and if he will set up an inquiry to discover the percentage of such students who later employed the skills they had acquired.

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

I regret that this information is not available, and I have no reason to think that an inquiry is needed.

Mr. Jenkins

Could my hon. Friend reconsider that Answer? Is she aware that there is no recognised qualification in drama, no certainty or even probability of employment, and that the waste of public money in this sphere is probably more than 50 per cent.?

Mrs. Williams

It happens that I receive an annual report containing details of awards made by local education authorities. But I would require considerable evidence of need before I could ask the local authorities to add to their existing work.

Mrs. Renée Short

Would my hon. Friend remedy her apparent ignorance about this position by reading the recent Report of the Estimates Committee which investigated the Arts Council? Is she not aware that there is tremendous unemployment in the theatre and that we are producing far too many students for the jobs available?

Mrs. Williams

I am aware of evidence in this respect. But my hon. Friend the Member for Putney (Mr. Hugh Jenkins) asked me particularly to make an inquiry of 163 local education authorities, and I have pointed out that, at the present time, it would be unreasonable to ask them for the information.