HC Deb 08 July 1971 vol 820 cc1509-11
24. Mr. Fred Evans

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what studies her Department has made of the effect on the British educational system of entry into the Common Market; and whether she will make a statement.

Mrs. Thatcher

No changes in the British educational system will be required as a condition of entry into the Common Market. The Treaty of Rome refers only to mutual recognition of diplomas, certificates and other qualifications in the context of freedom to practice a profession or calling in another country. The implications of the proposals to implement this part of the Treaty are being studied.

Mr. Evans

Will the right hon. Lady not agree that, apart from these specific references in the Treaty of Rome, British educational institutions are bound to be influenced in all kinds of ways? Would it not be wise for her Department to set up a general study group to assess the possible impact over the next five years?

Mrs. Thatcher

Needless to say, we are looking very carefully at the possible impact of entry, but I do not think the Treaty of Rome, or even entry itself, will require any major changes in some of our traditional rôles of education in this country, particularly with regard to the control of curricula.

Mr. Ronald King Murray

Is the right hon. Lady aware, when she talks of mutual recognition of qualifications, that there is still not mutual recognition of school certificates between Scotland and England? Should not this matter be put in order before we look at Europe?

Mrs. Thatcher

I do not think that we could wait quite so long as that to look at Europe.

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

Will my right hon. Friend clarify the position over the E.E.C., and assure us that there will be absolutely no change in the control of education in this country should we go in, and that things will remain exactly as they are, under her control—as she will be the Secretary of State in the years to come?

Mrs. Thatcher

The Treaty of Rome itself requires no changes. There probably would be changes brought about by greater contact between nations and possibly by the wish to bring them about in this country.

Mr. Alan Williams

But the right hon. Lady must realise that mutual recognition implies that there will be some agreement on course contents in certain professions, perhaps in the legal profession? Could she therefore put in the OFFICIAL REPORT for the benefit of hon. Members a list of those changes which have already taken place in the Six and any indications which she may have of the changes which would be required in this country, even if she considers them to be minor?

Mrs. Thatcher

If the hon. Gentleman puts down a specific Question, I will of course give him as much information as we have.