HC Deb 03 February 1971 vol 810 cc1657-8
18. Mr. Maclennan

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what proposals he has for improving the facilities for agricultural education in the Highlands and Islands.

Mr. Edward Taylor

Much has already been done to improve facilities at the North of Scotland College of Agriculture where there is a range of courses mainly at Diploma level. Aberdeenshire Education Authority are developing Clinterty Agricultural College as a regional farm centre with block-release and full-time courses above Stage I City and Guilds. Stage I courses are already offered locally, mainly on day-release, and appear to meet present demands.

Mr. Maclennan

Will the hon. Gentleman guarantee that the existing day-release courses which include Stage II will be continued and maintained and possibly improved after the extension of block-release courses at Thurso Technical College?

Mr. Taylor

If the hon. Gentleman is referring to the Stage II course run now at the Thurso Technical College, I remind him that this course was given temporary approval by my predecessor, following the hon. Gentleman's representations, pending the full development of Clinterty Agricultural College in Aberdeenshire. It will be reviewed in due course, probably in two years' time.

Mr. John Wells

In view of the important virus-free potentialities in this area, can my hon. Friend guarantee that adequate horticultural training will be available in agricultural education in the area? There are great national advantages to be gained in this.

Mr. Taylor

If there is demand for this provision it will be fully considered.