HC Deb 05 May 1971 vol 816 cc1359-62
18. Mr. Rankin

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps he is taking to maintain the teacher-pupil ratio among ordinary graduates in schools and also among honours graduates.

Mr. Edward Taylor

With permission, I will circulate figures in the OFFICIAL REPORT which show that the ratio of graduates to pupils in secondary schools is being maintained.

Mr. Rankin

Is the Under-Secretary aware that new methods of teaching are rapidly expanding at the primary and secondary level and that this offers a challenge to our present teaching methods? Does he have any information about the serious threat to our numerical standards in Scotland?

Mr. Taylor

I would be very concerned indeed about any threat to our standards in Scotland. However, the number of honours and ordinary graduates who entered training last October was the highest ever, and reports from the colleges of education suggest that the numbers this year will be even higher.

Following is the information:

Mr. Gordon Campbell

At present I have nothing to add to the projects and proposals in the reply to the hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. William Hamilton) on 7th April.—[Vol. 815, c. 135.]

Mr. Sillars

As the only way to reduce unemployment in Scotland this year is by undertaking a massive public works programme, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman for an assurance that he will demand such a programme from the Cabinet and that, if his demand is refused, he will resign? At what point in the rising unemployment scale will he deem it necessary to resign?

Mr. Campbell

I would not say that that was the only way of dealing with the unemployment problem. I am keenly concerned with the long-term position as well as with special winter measures. In the recent winter I announced a programme for Scotland only. Previously such programmes have been announced for the development areas as a whole. I am anxious that we get the economic decisions right, with growth starting, so that we can get investment going again in Scotland.

Mr. Grimond

Does not growth depend on having the proper infrastructure in Scotland? At a time when we have unused resources and may be going into the Common Market, is it not important that we should have, for example, a programme to improve facilities on the East Coast, so resulting in better transport arrangements to the Continent, with an improved land bridge, along with building up a big oil trans-shipment port in the North-West, particularly in view of accidents in the Channel?

Mr. Campbell

I would not like to answer the right hon. Gentleman's final points off the cuff. I agree with him about the need for a proper infrastructure. A lot has been done, is being done and will be increasingly done in Scotland about this and, in particular, the road programme will provide a network of roads which will be of immense value to commerce and industry.

Mr. Ronald King Murray

Will the right hon. Gentleman accept that as the general level of unemployment in Scotland is well above the national average while the general level of earnings is below the national average, he should refute the theory to which some of his Cabinet colleagues appear to adhere that the level of unemployment in Scotland is related to excessive wage demands? Will he refute that slander on Scottish workers?

Mr. Campbell

The hon. and learned Gentleman is misinformed about the attitude of my Cabinet colleagues towards Britain as a whole. One of our problems arises from inflationary wage claims, but that is a matter for the country as a whole. The relative unemployment position in Scotland has unfortunately been much the same for many years, and that is something which the Government want to put right.

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